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Spread Love & Happiness this Valentine’s: Be Happy! Give the World a Smile!

February 12, 2009

Try this test:fs482venus-and-cupid-posters

Smile at someone. Anyone.

Doesn’t that feel good? Don’t you feel better? And did the recipient of your smile smile back at you?

Most of us know from our own experience that if we’re surrounded by smiling happy people, we feel happy and  smiley too. I know when I’m teaching, it always goes better the more I smile–and my students smile back! Scientific research supports our experience that a simple act such as smiling spreads smiles and happiness.

People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.

Research published last December studied how happiness spreads dynamically through social networks of friends and family. They found that if your neighbor is happy, you’re more likely to be happy. If friends and family are happy, you too will be happy.

The researchers: James H Fowler, associate professor UC San Diego, Nicholas A Christakis, professor Harvard Medical School

Objectives To evaluate whether happiness can spread from person to person and whether niches of happiness form within social networks.

Participants 4739 individuals followed from 1983 to 2003

Results Clusters of happy and unhappy people are visible in the network, and the relationship between people’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one’s friends’ friends). People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future. Longitudinal statistical models suggest that clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not jcupids-swirly-heartcd122906faust a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. A friend who lives within a mile (about 1.6 km) and who becomes happy increases the probability that a person is happy by 25% (95% confidence interval 1% to 57%). Similar effects are seen in coresident spouses (8%, 0.2% to 16%), siblings who live within a mile (14%, 1% to 28%), and next door neighbours (34%, 7% to 70%). Effects are not seen between coworkers. The effect decays with time and with geographical separation.

Conclusions People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.

So this Valentine’s Day, give people a Valentine gift of a smile! Be happy and spread happiness! It’s a simple revolution, isn’t it?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. meeme permalink
    February 13, 2009 8:31 am

    As if someone can smile, whom wants to cry? The life is just too much not up to us.But,smile as a Valentine’s gift for ourselves and our friends are a good point.

  2. February 13, 2009 8:44 am

    Thanks, Meeme, for getting my point! Seriously, I learned the value of this as a teacher. When the you know what hit the fan at home or whatever, it was up to me to SMILE and be happy and helpful for my students–whether I felt like it or not. ANd smiling at the students, and getting smiles back, always made us all feel better!

    And right now, when so much is wrong in the world, we need to support each other and spread happiness as best we can! even if it’s small–like acknowledging the moon shining, or the way the light filters through the fuzz on the young sycamore leaves…

  3. February 13, 2009 1:35 pm

    Gwendolyn I couldn’t agree more. I discovered as a young boy what a smile could do. It is very rare that when you smile at someone, you don’t get a smile back.

    I think this is even more important if you live in a big city, with lots of people, busy, busy, busy and always in a hurry.

    Start giving a smile to everyone you pass walking down the sidewalk and you will be amazed at the reactions you receive. Smiles are contagious!

  4. tothewire permalink
    February 13, 2009 1:52 pm

    Love this post Art Predator! You even made the Caveman smile this morning! We take turns reading post as we sip our morning coffee!

  5. dorian9 permalink
    February 13, 2009 4:27 pm

    sweet, art predator! yes a simple smile is the most contagious thing in the world. it’s as universal as music and even more so because it has no genre. you can hear when a smile through the phone line and read a smile as a person is writing. here’s something that will make you smile:

  6. February 14, 2009 6:52 pm

    i’ve been dropping by your blog for a while (found you on poeticgrin’s blog). this post made me smile. and you’re right. i feel better. thanks!

  7. February 12, 2010 12:42 am

    ‘Social contagion’ – and what better thing to pass or catch then a smile (and we might all catch it). I’m smiling at you now artpredator :) You’ve cheered me up.

  8. February 15, 2010 8:13 pm

    Your post brought to mind the kids’ tune “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” and now there’s a BIG smile on my face, thanks for the joy!

  9. February 15, 2010 9:46 pm

    and again — I’ve been visiting various sites and when I saw this post (someone else’s blog, not mine) I had to share it with you:


  10. February 15, 2010 10:24 pm

    Thanks, everyone for stopping by and chiming in and sharing links on the topic too!

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