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, in turn, influences our habits, feelings, and behavior.
It is somewhat unbelievable, but research shows that my next-door neighbor’s best-friend’s co-worker—whom I’ve never met—influences my eating and exercise habits, and therefore how much I weigh. She also profoundly influences how happy I am. Read more about this social network effect on my Greater Good blog.
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. So do something this week for a friend–or even a distant acquaintance–that will make them happier.
The bonus: research shows that we get great joy and satisfaction out of helping other people–more even than if someone were doing something to make us happier.
If you are looking for a way to raise the happiness of your whole group of friends, or your community, this is what the whole Raising Happiness class is about. I hope you’ll consider starting a Raising Happiness group with your friends.
(When you start a discussion group, there are lots of benefits for yourself and for your social network: 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.)