This week, PBS is playing a wonderful documentary about emotions and happiness called This Emotional Life. It discusses what happiness is, how to achieve it, and how we can be more resilient.
There is a lot of science looking into happiness these days. Some of it examines the effect meditation has on the brain, which may prime neurological circuitry towards positive emotions. Some of looks at a new branch of psychology called positive psychology that focuses on character strengths and virtues.
And much of it comes back to what we already knew. Strong social connections, ties with friends and family make us happy. In fact, some researchers have shown that happiness is actually contagious. If a friend of a friend is happy, you are 15% more likely also to be happy. This continues down to 4 degrees of separation from you!
Smile and be happy! Someone may catch it from you.