To accomplish my goal, I'm going to answer a question posed by a visitor to this blog a few weeks ago.
Christina Auret asked: "Is happiness contagious? I have heard that one of the easiest ways of becoming happier is to make friends with happy people. Is this true in a worthwhile way or is it simply disingenuous? Obviously making friends is a good thing, but how much does the general mental health and happiness of your friends influence yours?"
And you know what? When I read Christina's excellent question, the first person I thought of was Lenny Lee. I mean, when I read one of this kid's comments, I smile. Every time I read one of his blog posts, I smile (even if I'm tearing up at the same time). How could I not?
But if you know me, you'll understand I'm not one to confuse my subjective experience or opinion with reality. I usually turn to the research to see whether systematic and controlled exploration backs up my experience--or not. This case was no different--I headed for the psychological literature.
Guess what? HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS.
A major study (of over five thousand people) has shown that happiness spreads as far as three degrees of separation within social networks. Even if you don't know a person, he/she can increase your happiness level if you associate with people he associates with, or his associates' associates.
Of course, the opposite is true, but there's evidence that sadness isn't as powerfully contagious as happiness (so don't ditch friends if they're sad!! Do the opposite!).
Yes--happiness is robust. Powerful. Healthy. And apparently, it can spread like wildfire. That's why we're so fortunate to have people like Lenny Lee around. No, he's not happy all the time. Nobody is. But his general attitude certainly is cheerful, and he has shared it generously with his blogger friends. If you don't know Lenny, you STILL may have been affected by him--because by knowing me, you're separated from him by only two degrees of separation.
And today, we're sharing that sunny happiness with him, and in his honor.
As Lenny would say: How cool is that?!