Is Happiness Contagious?
Happiness is the emotional state of a happy person; it is the sense of well-being and fulfilment we experience when we achieve our goals, desires, and purposes. It is an enduring moment of contentment, where there are no pressing needs, no torment or suffering, but is happiness contagious?
Happiness is a subjective and relative condition. As such, there are no objective requirements for happiness: no two people are necessarily happy under the same conditions and circumstances or for the same reasons. In theory, the feeling of self-fulfilment and the fulfilment of our desires and aspirations are essential aspects of being happy. However, in order to be happy, sometimes no precondition is necessary. So there are people who are always happy and feel at ease with life and with what they have been graciously given, and there are people who, despite having everything they could desire, still feel deeply unhappy.
Biochemistry Of Happiness
There are a number of substances in our body that continuously regulate its functioning. The most important of these are neurotransmitters (which originate in the nervous system) and hormones (produced by the glands). Neurotransmitters pass from one neuron to another, helping electrical impulses to travel through parts of the brain and to the nerves that run through your body, while hormones travel through your body via your blood, producing specific effects on your organs.
In addition, some substances can also behave as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, depending on their location, such as the happiness substances: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. It is not so difficult to trigger these hormones, and we can even trick the brain. Thanks to happiness, we can activate them. With a smile, even a fake one, we are sending a message to our brain and telling it that we are happy, even if we are not really happy at that moment.
So, Is Happiness Contagious?
Happiness is related to factors as diverse as quality of life, job satisfaction, good social and family relationships. As such, it is not unusual for it to be diminished when someone is ill or for depression and anxiety to have a negative influence on some pathologies. Some psychosocial determinants can be transmitted through social connections; this has important implications for the design of effective interventions.
Researchers have discovered that happiness is contagious and that socializing with cheerful people is the best antidote to depression. They have also found that, unlike happiness, having contact with depressed people does not increase the risk of depression; however, it is a great way to help them regain happiness. Having happy friends has been shown to double the chances of recovering from depression within 6-12 months. Factors such as living alone or being abused as a child play a crucial role in depression, so social support and having people to talk to about it are essential to regain happiness.
Happy people are often linked to each other (as are unhappy people). A person is 15% more likely to feel happy if they are connected to a happy alter. However, as the relationship becomes more distant (friends of friends, neighbors, work colleagues), these percentages drop to 9.8% or even 5.6% in the case of 'third line' acquaintances (friends of friends of friends, for example). Furthermore, it has been suggested that distance matters. For example, happiness is contagious, but living less than 1.6 kilometers away from an optimistic friend increases personal happiness by 14%. In contrast, if they live further away, fraternal feelings seem to have no effect. If the person living less than 0.8 kilometers away is a friend, their happiness increases the likelihood of happiness by 42%.
This analysis of the transmission of feelings also shows that happiness is contagious between people of the same sex with more strength than between people of the opposite sex. Perhaps that is why they suggest the well-being of friends or neighbors may be more influential than that of a partner (in the sample, they were all heterosexual).
Importance Of Happiness In Health
To date, it has been shown that happier individuals have lower levels of cortisol throughout the day (related to less stress or anxiety), and attenuated inflammatory response, and better cardiovascular health. Besides, an adequate concentration of the hormones that make us feel happy promotes calm and helps create a state of well-being. It improves mood, helps reduce pain, slows the aging process, boosts immune system function, lowers blood pressure, brings pleasure, and can reduce diseases such as Parkinson's; and also helps counteract elevated adrenaline levels associated with anxiety.
In addition to paying special attention to the interpersonal relationships we form, another quick way to produce the happiness hormones is by activating sexuality or/and pleasurable visualizations, such as landscapes or personal situations of success, well-being, and satisfaction. There are also other types of activities that can help us to produce these happiness hormones. These include listening to music, dancing, taking a relaxing bath, or walking in a peaceful place can help us produce them and make us feel happier. This is because levels of hormones such as endorphins increase with pleasure.