Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Scientific study reveals happiness is contagious.

When waxing philosophical it is a great treat to have a new scientific study verify my own anecdotal findings. A large study published in the British Medical Journal concludes: “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.”

They say that happiness has three degrees of separation. In other words when you are happy your friends’ friends’ friends will benefit by becoming happier. If you have read the excerpts from my book at you have seen at least one example of how this works in improving your own life. If enough people get onto this, we will save the world perhaps even sooner than I think.

Don’t wait for someone else’s happiness to wash over you. Generate some happy waves of your own. Before the BMJ study that would have sounded trite but now it is scientifically proven effective.


Scott Supak said...

Funny, I just read another blog post about happiness that quoted some interesting data, which, unfortunately, has been pretty well refuted by the Freakonomics guys, in a great post on the subject of money buying happiness back in April.


"1) Rich people are happier than poor people.
2) Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
3) As countries get richer, they tend to get happier."

Not saying that your theory, and this new evidence isn't true, it's just hard to "generate some happy waves" of my own when things are not good financially for me or anyone I know. In fact, I know many people who have recently lost their jobs, are way behind on bills, and are losing their homes.

So, yeah. Epic fails kinda spoil the ride, you know?

Scott Supak said...

I figured one of the Freakonomics guys (in this case, Justin Wolfers) would be all over this new study about "contagious happiness."

"According to the authors, your happiness depends on the happiness of your friends, and their friends, and their friends. It’s a fascinating finding, and it was duly reported by hundreds of newspapers. Indeed, according to Fowler, “if your friend’s friend’s friend becomes happy, that has a bigger impact on you being happy than putting an extra $5,000 in your pocket.

"Unfortunately, it’s probably not true. Here’s the crux of the research: the authors show that your happiness is positively related to the happiness of your friends, and that this holds even after accounting for a number of other variables, including how happy you and your friends were a few years back. That’s correlation; what about causation?"

The post goes onto to list other reasons why the research is faulty, and it is fascinating reading. I don't think it made me any happier to find out that one reason I'm angry is because I'm broke. I mean, hey, I didn't need an economist to tell me that.

Anyway, the Freakonomics blog will be covering this subject for the next few days. Happy reading.