Joy is contagious: study

Well fuck me silly! Just as flu season is upon us, the British Medical Journal publishes a study showing that we can also catch happiness from those around us. Check it out on the good old CBC.

Here’s the takeaway, in case you’re too goddam busy to pay attention to this nonsense:

Happiness is contagious, and the more people you know who are full of good cheer, the more likely it is that you’re also happy…

Happiness extended to three degrees of separation, from friends to friends of friends….

Damn, i’ll have to cull my social calendar now.

“The pursuit of happiness is not a solitary goal,” Fowler said. “We are connected, and so is our joy.”

… Each happy friend boosts your own happiness by nine per cent, the researchers suggest. On the other hand, having grumpy friends decreased the chances by about seven per cent.

Am i a nine-percenter or a seven percenter? Yippee!

And on the requisite downer note:

The researchers are also looking at the spread of depression, loneliness and drinking behaviour.


I’m wallowing in a funk of self-definition these days, or rather, a funky lack of self-definition. The principal building block of the self, in my culture, is what you fill in the blank with in the sentence “I am a _____.” And i have little these days, and seemingly less day by day, with which i feel i can fill that blank. At times, the most suitable gloss seems to be: I am a blank. Which can leave me feeling rather empty and useless.

Oh, there’s plenty i want to full the blank with, or feel i ought to fill it with. “Writer” is a big one — t’would be great to pontificate to the masses as one’s job, one’s outre (but still respectable) social function, treading those delicious lines between fame and influence and privacy.

Then there’s “environmental activist,” “entrepreneur,” “Zen adept,” “teacher,” “drummer,” “performance poet,” and more. I have yearnings in all these directions, and ability and potential. What i don’t seem to have is the je ne sais quoi — discipline, maybe, or narrowness — to latch onto one of them and hang on long enough to, with luck, establish a blank-filling reputation, if only in my mind. (But then, my mind is every mind, in that i’m the perfect reflection of my surroundings.) So i pick up one of them for a while, when the spirit moves me; but then the spirit moves on and i’m floundering again.

Strangely, the main flounder factor is not so much aimlessness as being restless with the aimlessness — the feeling that life is zooming by and i’m not engaging with it, in the beer-commercial or adventure-race sense (where every moment is jam packed with whole-hearted FUN or riveting ACTION or even simple, bone-deep HAPPINESS).

Bah. Written down, this puling limns its own “solution.” It’s written down right here in the box, compleat:
Simple, no?