Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny Lee Fest: Is Happiness Contagious?

Today is a special day. I, along with about two dozen other bloggers, am going to spread a little Lenny Lee sunshine. You don't know Lenny Lee? Check out his blog here.

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?!

25 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah .. as Lenny would say "Happiness Is: How Cool Is That?" ... contagion will spread more than 3 degrees this weekend with Lenny in our midst - some people just have that 'je ne sais quoi' ... that special something .. sunshine smile .. Happy Days .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  2. I certainly know that strangers' comments on my friends' posts can make me smile, so yes -- I can see that happiness is contagious even across degrees of separation!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happiness IS contagious. I'm addicted to laughing with my best friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay for good contagions! Lenny Lee is one of the best, too. Excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's absolutely cool! And so is your post combining Lenny and happiness.

    Since I've become a blogger, I get less down. That's because I post about what's bothering me, and then people like Lenny leave these wonderful comments.

    He's an impressive writer for his age. His posts are heartfelt. Most of them are upbeat, but even when they're not they make me smile because his sincerity shines through.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can't think of a single person who inspires me more than Lenny. His attitude is nothing short of saintly. And you're exactly right Sarah, every time I even hear him mentioned, it makes me smile.

    What a wonderful tribute to back his awesome up with some solid science.

    Hi Lenny!

    ReplyDelete
  7. ...as far as three degrees separation... Great to know!! I totally believe this, too. Just being near someone whose energy is upbeat can affect us in unseen ways. Sometimes it's even a delayed effect. I really liked this post. Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great post! And so true about Lenny! :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yeah I can see that. We definitely absorb the emotions of the people near us. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's so true! I agree that happiness is contagious, and it's great to have someone like Lenny spreading that happiness in the blogging world!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just looking at Lenny Lee made me smile. :-)

    I believe that happiness is contagious. It takes too much energy to be sad or grumpy. I prefer happy any day.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Lovely post. Lenny IS awesome! :D

    ReplyDelete
  13. The sun is shining in Portland, Oregon. I don't know about happiness, but sunshine is definitely contagious!

    Have a great weekend, and thanks for being part of the group spreading the Lenny Lee love.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awesome post! I know I always feel happier when Lenny visits and posts. I adore that little ray of sunshine! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Happiness is totally contagious. Anyone who doesn't believe that only needs to spend 5 minutes with Lenny and they'd totally agree!

    Go Lenny!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

    ReplyDelete
  16. ohmygoodness!!! SO TRUE!
    just EVERYTHING lenny makes me smile! even if i'm a gigantic crabby patty at the moment, i just see his little avatar or read his sweet words (about anything) and instant happiness!
    LOVE LENNY!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love it. All of these blog posts have put an enormous smile on my face.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a great post, Satah! Lenny's sunshine, posts and comments spread happiness. I think of him everytime I see a sunshine or something that is his yellow color and it makes me smile. It's amazing how you can love someone that you've never met, but I really love that kiddo!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lovely post, Sarah! I feel so lucky to be part of the Lenny Lee Fest! :) I'm sure Lenny will love your post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lenny would agree, that's some major coolness! Love it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Happy people also tend to piss off sad people, so I've noticed.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love this post! Lenny truly does make the world a happier place. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great post! I love visiting here because your posts make me happy. Will check Lenny out today. :)

    ReplyDelete