A happy friend is worth about $20,000

This is based on research, folks.

But we didn’t need scientists to tell us this. The old Frank Kapra films like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE that have been demonstrating this for years.  I think we need a new government measurement. We’d call it the GDH, the gross domestic happiness index. And then we can see who really is rich, e.g. my five bunko buddies cancel out your Lexus any day.

Joking aside, this shows how much social interaction is built into our genes. And why we tend to tire of congenital whiners, complainers, and sadsacks. Not to say that people who are sad shouldn’t be. But that a happy friend or family member, who listens with kindness, can be a great boon to someone who is suffering.

People with the most social connections — friends, spouses, neighbors, relatives — were also the happiest, the data showed. “Each additional happy person makes you happier,” Christakis said.

“Imagine that I am connected to you and you are connected to others and others are connected to still others. It is this fabric of humanity, like an American patch quilt.”

Each person sits on a different-colored patch. “Imagine that these patches are happy and unhappy patches. Your happiness depends on what is going on in the patch around you,” Christakis said.

“It is not just happy people connecting with happy people, which they do. Above and beyond, there is this contagious process going on.”

And happiness is more contagious than unhappiness, they discovered.

“If a social contact is happy, it increases the likelihood that you are happy by 15 percent,” Fowler said. “A friend of a friend, or the friend of a spouse or a sibling, if they are happy, increases your chances by 10 percent,” he added.

A happy third-degree friend — the friend or a friend of a friend — increases a person’s chances of being happy by 6 percent.

“But every extra unhappy friend increases the likelihood that you’ll be unhappy by 7 percent,” Fowler said.

The finding is interesting but it is useful, too Fowler said.

“Among other benefits, happiness has been shown to have an important effect on reduced mortality, pain reduction, and improved cardiac function. So better understanding of how happiness spreads can help us learn how to promote a healthier society,” he said.

The study also fits in with other data that suggested — in 1984 — that having $5,000 extra increased a person’s chances of becoming happier by about 2 percent.

“A happy friend is worth about $20,000,” Christakis said.

Here’s the full article.

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