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Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Is The New Black

Instagram sucked me in the other night.  I have to admit, I love randomly typing in a word and exploring what images pop up.  Well that night #happy was the word I explored.  Over 400,000 images flooded my screen.  I smiled and a very interesting question popped into my head.  Is happiness contagious?  Pharrell Williams must believe it is.

The question kept me up that night.  The following morning I sent out a Facebook status as a little experiment.  Granted my experiment did not follow the scientific method, but who cares?  Let's be honest, this blog is not Psychology Today.  The posted status asked for my friends to comment with what makes them the most  happy throughout the week.  Over 30 of my friends responded and some responded multiple times.  For their participation I thank them.  These open minded friends shared happiness with me and the others who'd responded.  Well done!

Trying to categorize the answers it occurred to me that it didn't matter that the happy thoughts weren't the same.  Family, friends, dancing, music, snorkeling, food, and many other responses are all great happy moments!  What mattered was the shared consciousness of happiness itself.  I asked a follow up question via Personal Message from each of the participants; "How did you feel after commenting about your happiness?  Did you enjoy seeing others comment too?"  The responses were all positive.  They had all felt it too.  For a brief moment that day, we all wore happy.

A Harvard study in 2008 proved scientifically that happiness is indeed contagious.  The story had been covered from WebMD to Oprah that year.  There weren't too many other hits after 2008 other than the occasional blog covering the same question.  I'm thrilled that science is studying positive human behavior, but I can't understand why people aren't harnassing it.  If happiness is truly contagious, why are we not spreading it like ebola?  People are screaming out, "share #happy" all over social media.  The key may be the shared consciousness of happiness and passing it on.

The philosopher Mill said, "There is something wrong with less than full participation in one's life."  This should ring true for anyone who has been awakened to the joy that surrounds us each and every day.  Perhaps each of us should try to spread this happy virus a little every day.  Wear happy like a trendy outfit!  We can think of it as a happy fight club.  There's no need to talk about why you're spreading it or putting pressure on others to join in.  Spreading joy can bring you joy!  Be selfishly altruistic and see if you aren't more successful and productive in your own world.

Someone made fun of me in my past and called me "Bubbles" because of my upbeat, bubbly personality.  I'm still the same person I was when she said it.  I don't remember being offended and I think that I get why she'd said it.  She may have been miserable and seeing my giggly, smiley self must have pissed her off.  I've always maintained that I'm krytonite to grumpiness. Today I'll compliment a stranger.  Today I will consciously bring a smile to someone else's face and spread my happiness virus around.  Today, "Bubbles" will start a happiness revolution.  Care to join me?  If not, that's okay too.  Just please oh please try to let yourself find happiness a little every day.

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