Bill Cosby once quipped, “Show me your five closest friends, and I’ll show you your future.” It turns out he may have been more right about that than about chocolate cake. New studies suggest a person’s attitude and outlook may be significantly influenced by their closest friends.
Your Circle of Happiness – The Takeaway
Happiness has a range of proven benefits, including improving the body’s immunityThe immune system and happiness. Barak, Y. Psychogeriatric Department, Abarbanel Mental Health Center, Bat-Yam and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Bat-Yam, Israel. Autoimmune Reviews 2006 Oct;5(8):523-7. and even helping to achieve successPsychological resilience and positive emotional granularity: examining the benefits of positive emotions on coping and health. Tugade, MM., Fredrickson, BL., Barrett, LF. Department of Psychology, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12604, USA. Journal of Personality 2004 Dec;72(6):1161-90. In one study, researchers found that the happiest study participants had only one characteristic in common: strong social networksVery Happy People. Diener, E., Seligman, ME. Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign 61820, USA. Psychological Science 2002 Jan;13(1):81-4..
Similarly, studies show that physical health can be affected by the health of close friends, tooThe spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. Christakis, NA, Fowler, JH. Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. The New England Journal of Medicine 2007 Jul 26;357(4):370-9.. Because social cues are typically taken from close friends rather than family or neighbors, having an overweight friend, for example, may make being overweight seem like less of a big dealThe spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. Christakis, NA, Fowler, JH. Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. The New England Journal of Medicine 2007 Jul 26;357(4):370-9..
So when friends are already happy and healthy, embrace it! And, if not, consider seeking out fitness, health, and happiness-minded groups and activities to potentially make some new ones.
Cultivating relationships with happy and healthy people makes you more likely to be happy and healthy.