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Happiness Tip: Catch Someone Else’s Joy

When was the last time someone else’s happiness became your own?

Last weekend I was at a fundraiser where several musicians were playing live. I was close enough to the guitar player, Jack, to be able to watch his expressions while I listened to him play. As I watched, I noticed myself grinning right along with Jack. He was totally in the moment, happiness flowing through him and his instrument, sheer bliss radiating from his face.

I realized that as I paid attention to Jack’s joy, my own emotions were mirroring his: I was feeling an expansive happiness. This is a phenomena my mentor James Baraz calls “vicarious joy,” and it is something that is easy to cultivate in our everyday lives.

Take Action: Watch for other people’s positive emotions. Who around you is feeling deep gratitude, or giddy happiness, or profound compassion? Let yourself “catch” their emotions, and take in the good feelings that occur in your own body as a result.  Even the joy of a dog can be contagious; my children frequently fall to the ground giggling as they watch our friends’ labrador play in the park.

Join the discussion: What is your favorite source of vicarious joy?  Share in the comments!