The happiness of people in our social networks matters MUCH more than you think. Here’s why: Our friends influence what we think of as normal, and that influences our habits, feelings, and behavior, which, in turn, make us happy. Or not.
It is somewhat unbelievable, I know, but research shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that my next-door neighbor’s best-friend’s co-worker–whom I’ve never met–often influences how happy I am. Read more about this amazing social network effect on my Greater Good blog.
What if you read that post and start thinking: “OMG, my friends are those complainers Christine describes”? For crying out loud, don’t drop your friends. The answer is NOT to get out of your social network, but rather to INFLUENCE the happiness of your network.
Take action: Do something this week for a friend–or even a distant acquaintance–that will make them happier. Research shows that we get great joy and satisfaction out of helping other people, more even than if someone were doing something to make ourself happier.
Remember, even a very small act of kindness can brighten someone’s day; share what you decide to do in the comments below.
I’m having a great time in New York this week; Monday I was on the Today Show! I hope that you also have a happy week.
PS: If you want specific ways to raise the happiness of your friends or your community, this is what the Raising Happiness class is about. (And when you start a discussion group, there are lots of benefits: you can take the class for free or at a discount, you’ll earn money for your kids’ school, you can get free books, and more. Email Monica for more information.)