Happy people tend to be found in the company of other happy people, while unhappy people are likely to spend time with unhappy people. You are probably saying, "Yes, that's right." You may have thought about this relationship before, or you may just now be scanning through a mental list of people you know and finding the correlation. Either way, it is a matter of personal experience that both happy and unhappy people tend to mingle with others having a similar degree of happiness. Why is this true? Are happiness and unhappiness infectious?

Several factors are at work. First, let's say that I am an unhappy and negative person. I depress the emotions of those with whom I come in contact. As a result, happy positive people try to avoid me as much as they can, while unhappy people, plus any previously happy people who are bound to me through family or career, are further depressed by contact with me. I tend to feel uncomfortable around happy people because I'm jealous of their happiness, while I create a misery-loves-company kind of bond with other unhappy people.

If I am a happy person, all this works in reverse. I uplift the emotions of those I come in contact with. As a result, happy positive people love being in my company. Unhappy people, however, either respond to my joyful positivity, thus beginning their journey toward their own happiness, or they find themselves feeling frustrated and jealous, and sever their relationship with me. I become even happier when I am around other happy people, while I tend to feel uncomfortable around unhappy people, and will tend to avoid them to the extent that doing so does not conflict with my commitment toward those people.

People sort themselves into groups of happy people and unhappy people through two different, but complementary mechanisms, influence and affinity. I influence those around me with my emotional state, either happy or unhappy. At the same time, I feel an affinity for others who are like me in some way - in this case by sharing my emotional outlook on life.

While we can observe the effect of clusters of happy and unhappy people in our lives, quantifying this effect is beyond our personal experience. A large-scale long-term research study published in 2008 by James Fowler of UC San Diego and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School documented the profound effect a happy, or unhappy, person has on their acquaintances. This study showed that you are 15 percent more likely to be happy because you are in contact with someone who is happy; 10 percent if a friend of a friend is happy; and 6 percent if a friend of a friend of a friend is happy. Just think about that - your own happiness has a measurable effect on the happiness of the friends of the friends of your friends. What an amazing power you hold!

In addition, the study revealed that while unhappiness is also infectious, an unhappy person doesn't exert the same influence over large groups as a happy person does. I visualize this difference with the example of a candle being brought into a dark cave. The candle illuminates the darkness rather than the darkness snuffing out the candle.

As a happy person, you radiate happiness to the world. While the study only measured the effect to the third level of acquaintance, visualize your light radiating throughout the world, passing from person to person until the whole earth is uplifted by your happiness.

Affirmation: I shine my light of happiness into the darkness of negativity.

Author's Bio: 

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Jonathan Lockwood Huie is an author of self-awareness books, including co-authoring Simply An Inspired Life. He has been dubbed "The Philosopher of Happiness" by those closest to him, in recognition of his on-going commitment to seeing Joy in all of life.

** Today is your day to dance lightly with life. It really is. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie **