It looks like happiness is viral and who you know can make you happy. Well, as long as your friends are happy, and their friends too.
The long running Framingham Heart Study on social networks and health found that happiness is kind of like a virus and it spreads through social networks. Having happy friends can increase your chances for happiness. And your friends having happy friends can influence your happiness as well. Even a happy friend of a friend of a friend can influence your degree of happiness. Yep, three degrees of separation can still affect your happiness, and I have no idea what this will do to Kevin Bacon and his six degrees of separation.
To see if sadness is contagious,
These findings echo earlier findings on "viral" obesity that people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. Happiness can be considered contagious. The bad new is that sadness can spread too, but it is not nearly as contagious as happiness and is considered downright inefficient when compared to its foil. That is the good news. An author of the study would rather that his findings be used not to avoid our unhappy peers, but rather a chance to use our own good cheer to spread happiness. Considering that this is the season of giving, give the gift of happiness.