Choose your friends wisely: new research says they can make you happy (or fat, or a cancer-stick-sucking addict for that matter). We’ve known since at least Darwin that joy is contagious in a momentary sense — smiling or laughing often causes others to engage in the same behavior and share the pleasure of a particular experience. But this new research suggests a more durable social influence in determining positive emotion.
Interestingly, the article also suggests that positive emotion is more contagious than negative emotion. So while it pays to start hanging out with your friends in the rose-colored glasses, it doesn’t mean you have to drop the Debbie downers entirely.
NYT: Is Happiness Catching?
In another interesting piece of news today, French president Nicolas Sarkozy says France will incorporate happiness measures into their GDP. Though it sounds a little like the touchy-feely Bhutanese accounting method on the surface, the new method is the brainchild of Nobel Prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz. The revised indicators account for the economic benefits of welfare systems, holidays, and environmental measures, correcting what many see as a bias towards productivity at any social and ecological cost in the current figures.
FT: France to Count Happiness in GDP