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Happiness And Being Happy Are Infectious

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Feelin' blue? Latch onto someone you know who's naturally upbeat. There's plenty of misery to go around these days--the stock market's in the tank, pink slips abound and holiday sales are at record lows. But some naturally upbeat people aren't affected, or at least are not as affected, as some of us are. So if you know someone who's naturally gleeful and you are not, hang onto that person and hang out with that person as much as possible:

In a study published online today by the British Medical Journal, scientists from Harvard University and UC San Diego showed that happiness spreads readily through social networks of family members, friends and neighbors.

Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself, the study found. A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%, and even your neighbor's sister's friend can give you a 5.6% boost.

...This isn't the first evidence that emotions can spread like a virus. Studies have found that waiters who offer service with a smile are rewarded with bigger tips. On the flip side, having a mildly depressed roommate made college freshmen increasingly depressed themselves.

This isn't just the folderol of researchers seeking to keep themselves gainfully employed, although it might seem so to some. This is actually critical health research being produced to impact public policy. Upbeat people live longer, even through terminal illnesses. The more science explores, the more scientists learn that the phrase, "mind over matter" has a lot of science behind it.

--Read more by Bonnie Erbe.

--Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

By Bonnie Erbe

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