The Score on Happiness by ALIST HR

I came across this article and felt it was so good that I wanted to share it with you. According to the folks at Alist HR, good cheer spreads through social networks of family and friends – knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy.

People who are surrounded by happy people and those central in their network are more apt to be happy in the future. A friend who lives within one mile (1.6 km) and who becomes happy increases the probability that their friend is happy by 25%. Effects are not seen between coworkers because the social context of work “might moderate the flow of happiness from one person to another.” The conclusion is that people’s happiness depends somewhat on the happiness of others with whom they are connected; however the effect diminishes with time and distance.

The study notes there are many factors impacting happiness and that “happiness is determined by a complex set of voluntary and involuntary factors including lottery wins, elections, income, job loss, socioeconomic inequality, divorce, illness, bereavement, and genes.”

In this study, happiness consisted of positive emotions. The final summation of the study indicates that happy people tend to be connected to one another:

• spouses who become happy increase the chances that their spouse becomes happy by 8%;

• siblings who live nearby and become happy increase their sibling’s change in happiness by 14%;

• next door neighbours who become happy increase happiness by 34%, while neighbours who live on the same block have no significant effect;

• happy people tend to be located in the centre of their local social networks and in large clusters of other happy people.

 The Results

“Remember happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.” (Dale Carnegie)

Our Survey Says…

Weighing in on happiness.

When asked if their own happiness is more impacted by happy or unhappy people, 59% said that happy folks had a greater effect on their own disposition. 35% felt unhappy individuals impacted them most, and the remaining 5% felt that others had no effect. 72% of respondents believe that happiness is a choice, while 14% feel it’s primarily genetic, and the rest thought both choice, genes and other factors have an effect. When asked to identify the one person that impacts their happiness most, the top pick was spouse/partner at 41%. Another 28% feel their children bring them the most happiness, 17% named their best friend, and 7% chose a sibling or parent.

In order of what respondents named as the things that affect their own happiness most: health was named first by 36 respondents, family was named as often; however always second to health, next came friends (14), job/career (12) and money (11). Other areas included: sleep,romance and leisure time.

After reading countless books and articles, our revelation may seem obvious: happiness is not a pursuit — it’s a state of being. Happiness is not time, money, who our parents are, what job we have. It’s an inner state. We may not be able to chase it, but we can build on what we have, and pursue happiness through the choices we make. This is an element where we have control. We choose our friends. We can remove ourselves from, or diminish contact with, negative people. Negative people will eventually cluster together, why get caught up? The happiness study showed that “the mood of one evolves to match the mood of the other”. Don’t give power to negative thoughts by giving them time and energy. By changing our thoughts, we can change our experience. “If we are not happy with the outcome so far, the choice to have a happier life is ours. You see, our lives match our thoughts. We are in charge of our thoughts as well as their creation. Whatever thought we are harboring, whatever perception we are nurturing, was handpicked.

That’s the bad news. But any thought that troubles us can be discarded. It’s our choice. That’s the good news. And how refreshing.” (Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, Karen Casey)

Being “busy” is not an excuse for not being happy. Everyone is busy all the time;we fill the time we have. What matters is how we enjoy the moments we’re living while being busy. “It takes as much time to be happy as it does to be depressed or resentful.” (Happiness Now!)

Human contact contributes to happiness. Texting, email, voicemail, teleconferencing — fantastic technological progression but sometimes at the expense of our relationships. In the happiness study, two elements were essential to allowing a happy person to have a positive effect on others: frequency (having regular contact in person) and proximity (living within 1.6 km). Find opportunities to visit, connect in person. Money does support happiness by reducing stress and offering choices.However, everyone knows happy people with economic struggles and unhappy people who seem to have it all. A quote that resonated: “Unless you’re happy with who you are, you won’t be happy with what you have.” (Happiness Now!)

Be joyful, get silly. Our culture may emphasize image, popularity and perfection. Once you let go of these concepts, and be yourself/act yourself, you can have real fun.

Laughter is medicine. Just be you, don’t worry about what others think. “I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.” (author unknown)

Kindness goes a long way to living a happy life, both giving and receiving. “Kindness? It may strike us as absurd to even approach the subject: Our world is full of violence, war, terrorism, and devastation.

And yet life goes on precisely because we are kind to one another. No newspaper tomorrow will tell of a mother who read a bedtime story to her child, or a father who prepared breakfast for his children, of someone who listened with attention, of a friend who cheered us up. Many of us are kind without even knowing it. We do what we do simply because it is right.” (The Power of Kindness)

Use your creativity to expand your existing talents. We can find simple moments of happiness when we create — cooking, writing, taking photographs, singing, renovating, gardening.

Refreshing a past interest, exploring a new one can lead to greater confidence and fulfillment. “Significant creativity is within everyone’s reach–no exceptions. What’s more, greater creativity breeds greater happiness. The creative process is itself a source of joy for most people. And with new creative powers we’re also better able to solve the little problems that beset us daily.” (Robert Epstein)

Happiness is a state of mind, and comes more naturally to some people than others. Humans are born with a higher propensity to be positive or to be negative — but that doesn’t stop each of us from trying to feel happiness, to experience joy. “The primary cause of unhappiness is never your situation but your thoughts about it.” (‘A Happier You’, Eckhart Tolle, Oprah magazine, January 2009)

Have a great week!

Linda Edgecombe, CSP
Motivational Speaker
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Linda Edgecombe
Canadian Speaker Hall of Fame