05 December 2008

Want to be Happy? Be Around Happy People

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. _British Medical Journal
A recent BMJ study looked at the "Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network." Using 20 years of data from the longitudinal Framingham Study, UCSD and Harvard researchers sought to determine whether happiness of individuals is related to the happiness levels of individuals surrounding them.

Apparently, happiness is contagious. Clearly, so is unhappiness. So are a number of other ephemeral psychological states. Humans possess "mirror neurons" and mirror brain circuits. We both imitate others, and are imitated by them, simultaneously.

This is how children and adolescents learn to become independent adults, by imitating persons in their environments. Of course, if the only persons in their environments are incompetent perpetual adolescents -- psychological neotenates -- they are not likely to ever become independent in any meaningful sense. And if the only persons who influence them happen to be whining and envious freeloaders, their course in life will be skewed downward. Hence, at least part of the explanation for multi-generational crime and welfare dependency.

If you want to be happy, prosperous, independent, and productive, think about the type of social network you may want to develop for yourself. Think about the kind of books you may want to read, and the sort of entertainment you may wish to expose yourself to.

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Blogger SwampWoman said...

Heh. Want to be happy? Stay away from people on perpetual diets.

Saturday, 06 December, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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