Healthy Byte: Happiness is Contagious, Be a Carrier

2015 10-8a

Mongolian girl having a hearty laugh with her camel

Depression is not contagious, according to a new study published in the journalProceedings of the Royal Society B. Happiness, however, is more likely to spread between friends, and the results from the study may help remove some of the stigma surrounding depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people worldwide are currently living with depression. Unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress in lowering that number, even though there are literally entire scientific journals devoted to the subject. Preliminary studies have now shown that social support and friendships may be a major factor in lifting you out of a diagnosed funk. Thanks to a detailed study, we have some of the first empirical evidence that happiness is contagious, and that those who befriend depressed people are not in danger of becoming depressed themselves.

Researchers examined data from over 2,000 teenagers who had reported their network of friendships and answered questions about their levels of happiness as part of an earlier research project. Based on the survey results, the scientists classified each student into either a “low mood” (depressed) category a or “healthy mood” (not depressed) category. Then, they mapped out friendships and ran computer simulations to determine whether happiness and sadness spread between friends like an infectious disease.

The result? Depression is not contagious. Meanwhile, happiness not only spreads—it may prevent (and even help people recover from) depression. The model suggests that teens with five or more happy friends have half the probability of suffering from depression over a six to 12-month period than teens without no “healthy mood” friends. And adolescents with 10 healthy friends have more than double the probability of recovering from depressive symptoms.

“This was a big effect that we have seen here,” said Thomas House, mathematics professor at the University of Manchester and coauthor on the study in a prepared statement. “It could be that having a stronger social network [the real-life version, not Facebook] is an effective way to treat depression.”

Since the study suggests teens are not at risk of “catching” depression from their friends, and having happy friends may prevent and even pull teens out of depression, House and his colleagues stress that it is important to promote any friendship between adolescents. Friendship is a win-win, the study says—it can’t hurt, but it may be both protective and curative.

“If we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example providing youth clubs) each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect,” House said in a prepared statement. “This would reduce the prevalence of depression.”

Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

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“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Healthy Byte: The Power of Positivity

This Little Shift in Thinking Could Change the Way You Perceive the World

Positive thinking really is powerful.(Photo: Stocksy/Eduard Bonnin)

The more I learn about the brain, the more fascinated I am by it. Things I used to think were just a mystery (like what makes us happy and what makes us sad) I’m now learning are totally controllable.

So, I was really excited to talk to one of the leading neuroscience psychologists in the field today: Rick Hanson, PhD, has written multiple best-selling books about how to actually hardwire our brains to stay positive in both thought and feeling.

In our conversation, I kept asking him questions related to my own experiences with emotional intelligence, positive thought, and the power we have to shift ourselves out of negative emotions and thought patterns. Everything Rick shared with me confirmed my own experience and what I’ve learned from other experts.

What I especially loved learning from Rick was how important it is to slow down and consciously enjoy the good times, because it actually helps reinforce the hardwiring of our brains. He explained that one of the easiest shifts to make is to acknowledge all the things that go right in our day versus only acknowledging what goes wrong.

This may seem obvious, but think about it: How often do you get 50 positive emails during your workday confirming you are doing your job right, and yet the one email you get that is negative, or exposes a mistake you made, is the only one you remember?

Rick’s favorite phrase to explain the importance of acknowledging the positive aspects of our days is, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

Essentially, he explains that when we think positive thoughts (i.e. “Wow, my hair looks great today”), we are using neurons that create positive pathways in our brain — and these pathways are being kept open and ready to be used. The reverse is also true: If we are constantly stuck in negative thought loops, those are the neuron pathways that are open and being used.

So before you write off the power of positive thinking, remember that it costs zero money and next to no time to add a few more positive acknowledgments in your day. Science says that the effect will last longer than the thought.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Mental Toughness

2015 8-21

Not all of us are naturally strong. Some have anxiety or are insecure, which easily puts cracks in your armor. So, how do you toughen up to gain the utmost confidence? Here are seven ways to mentally toughen you up!

1. They take control.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who believe in fate, and those who believe they have control over things. According to Inc, you should be the latter; stop worrying about things that happen to you and start making things happen for you.

2. They’re flexible.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. So, it’s better to be able to pivot when you need to! According to Forbes, being flexible means you’re open to the unexpected and won’t crumble when something inevitably changes.

3. They learn from their mistakes.

You can either choose to crumble from your mistakes, or make them tools for your future. Look at those slip ups as training and refrain from letting them define you. According to Inc, looking at these moments as training will toughen you up.

4. They create specific goals — then conquer them.

Sometimes, you’re mentally all over the places, because you have no direction. What are you doing? Why? When do you want to accomplish this? A Harvard study found that students who set goals tend to earn twice as much as those who had no goals. So, write down that goal, then reap the benefits.

5. They look for acceptance from themselves, not others.

Most of us want other people to like us, but strength comes from within. Ironically, many people don’t like you until you stop caring whether or not others like you. According toInc, that kind of strength is admirable, and your relationships become happier once you adopt that mindset.

6. They keep their stress in check.

Find out what helps you lower your stress level. Perhaps it’s tea, maybe it’s exercising, maybe it’s just setting aside alone time. But a study from New York University found that stress makes it harder for people to control their emotions. Want to lower your risk of bursting into tears at work? Get rid of that stress.

7. They let the little things roll off their back.

Stop sweating the small stuff. According to Inc, your mental strength is a finite supply. So, don’t wear yourself down. Although you should accept that you have control over your life, don’t turn into a control freak.

Originally Posted HERE

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