I think you’ll probably agree with me that it’s very hard not to smile when your child giggles uncontrollably and sharing a funny story with a good friend usually leaves both of you feeling happy.
We know in our hearts that sharing positive emotions is good for all concerned. Scientific research takes this idea a step further and suggests that the sense of well-being created by positive emotion can be contagious in communities.
Researchers in the UK tracked happiness levels in a community over a period of 20 years and found evidence of distinct clusters of individuals reporting high levels of positive emotions and overall well-being. The researchers saw evidence that positive emotions are contagious, that they can be transmitted over social networks a bit like a virus (but with better outcomes). Further, that if a member of an individual’s family or a close friend reports being happy, that individual is statistically more likely to report higher levels of happiness.
In another study, research carried out by the Gallup organisation suggests that the well-being of employees is strongly influenced by their immediate supervisor’s level of well-being and that this relationship increased over time and appeared to be reciprocal. It seems that an individual could be a positive influencer of the well-being of their entire team.
What is really encouraging in this for mothers is the idea that striving to improve our own well-being can actively assist our family and friends. It can be hard to set aside time for yourself but I hope that the idea that your well-being can infect those around you might be an added motivation.
In previous blogs we’ve suggested some strategies for increasing your well-being that you could take another look at, or please feel free to email or call us for some other ideas.
Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the work of J.H. Fowler & N.A. Christakis and the Gallup Organisation.