are happier when they order entrées that are similar nutritionally to those of
their companions, found University of Illinois research. If you’re watching
your waistline, place your order first so you’re not tempted by your pals’
who were randomly paired with roommates highly prone to brooding were likely to
“catch” their negative-thinking style after only three months, found a
University of Notre Dame study. Recognize that other people may influence how
you respond to life’s challenges.
the other hand, positive feelings also rub off, according to a seminal study of
almost 5,000 people by researchers at Harvard and the University of California,
San Diego. When you feel happy, a friend who lives within one mile is 25
percent more likely to feel happy, and neighbors are 34 percent more likely to
feel happy. The same data found that an extra $5,000 increased happiness by
about 2 percent, a much lower impact than what’s gained by having a joyful
friend of a friend (a second-degree connection), which can boost your own good
feelings by 10 percent.
Content continues below ad
same research team found that when one person quit smoking, close friends and
family members became 36 percent less likely to smoke. The ripple effect: Even
very casual acquaintances of the initial quitter became 20 percent less likely
to light up.
brain is hardwired to detect stress in other people, such as increases in breathing
rate. This triggers a cascade of our own stress hormones, Heidi Hanna,
executive coach and author of Stressaholic, told us. And you don’t need to be in the same room
to catch someone else’s stress, which is transmittable via e-mail, texts, and
social media. (Curt responses could signal someone is under a tight deadline,
for example.) When you feel stressed, take breaks and get enough sleep—that’s
not selfish. It benefits everyone around you.
6 Body Quirks You Can "Catch"
laughing, itching, coughing, vomiting, and crying are all socially contagious.
Yawning is so infectious, says psychologist Robert R. Provine, author of Curious Behavior, that we yawn when we see,
hear, or even read about someone else doing it. “We are often herd animals, not
in full conscious control of our behavior,” adds Provine. Scientists theorize
that sharing these quirks conferred an evolutionary advantage: Laughter is a
form of bonding; scratching an itch, a safety precaution. (Your brain may
think, Hey, their fleas could jump ship and infest me.) Yawning could be how
cavemen ancestors synchronized their sleep-wake schedules.