Back when I was in the U.S. Air Force, working as a tech school instructor, I used to tell my students that, if they weren't happy, to borrow some from a friend.
Well, it turns out that my instruction was only half-joking... only I didn't know it at the time.
Just last week British researchers (the same researchers who discovered that smoking and obesity spread in networks) discovered that happiness also spreads in networks.
That is: happiness is contagious.
If someone you know is happy, the chances of you being happy are increased by 15%!
As if that wasn't enough, it also appears that this happiness effect works for up to three degrees of separation, meaning: if a friend of a friend is happy you can still be "infected" (or perhaps, inspired) by their good mood!
Better still: unhappiness, which also spreads through our social networks, does so only half as effectively. An unhappy friend increases your chances of catching the blues by only 7%.
So what does all this mean?
Well, first and foremost: our social networks are important. The more friends we have who are healthy and happy, the better chance there is that we will be healthy and happy.
Second, learning ways to be happy isn't just something we do for ourselves, we do it for everyone in our social network.
Third, when we're not feeling happy, looking to our friends who are happy can help lift our spirits and change our moods. Indeed, various studies have shown that happiness can reduce mortality, reduce pain, and improve cardiac function -- it's not simply a state of mind.
So surround yourself with happy people if you want to be happy... and BE happy if you want those around you to be happy.
If everybody does that, then sooner or later, the whole world will be a much happier, healthier place to be!