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Be the light

When I’m doing the Christmas tree, the lights start off in a pile on the floor, awaiting their untanglement and drapery. I plug them in, with fingers crossed that they still work after 350 dormant days. Phew! They illuminate in a satisfying messy mass of colour with a big knot in the middle and then a thinning of lights at the edge.

It’s not unlike your social network. If you imagine every light is a person in your life, and all the wires between them are your social ties. But because it’s your personal network you are slap bang in the middle of the illuminated spaghetti.

It doesn’t take too much effort to imagine you on a good day versus you on a rotten one. How many lights can you light up, or switch off? That’s worth mulling for a while.

While it’s true that we cannot force people to be happy, we can influence them. It is truly a case of leading by example. Your attitudes and behaviours are infectious. I guess the million-dollar double-barrelled question is: who will you ‘emotionally infect’ and what will you ‘infect’ them with?

The science of positive psychology reports that a happy friend makes you 25% happier (but only if they live within a mile of you), a happy brother or sister raises your happiness by 14% and a happy neighbour raises your happiness by a whopping 34%.

But there’s more! Emotions have a ‘hyper-dyadic spread’ – they pass from person to person, beyond an individual’s direct social ties. Your ‘emotional spillage’ creates a ripple effect that reaches 3 degrees of people removed from you, meaning you are affecting you friends, your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends.

How many people do you come into direct contact with every single day? Let me do the sums for you: at a conservative estimate, let’s assume you meet 3 people at home, 15 work colleagues, 3 people in the supermarket queue, a shop assistant, the lady behind the counter at the petrol station, plus you smile at 5 random strangers… that’s 28 people that you’ve come into direct contact with.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that they also meet 28 people and those 28 also meet 28.

The hyper-dyadic effect means your happiness has therefore leaked out of you and rippled to 28 x 28 x 28 people. That’s 21,952 people and that’s a conservative estimate! If you’re in a ‘people job’ such as teaching, nursing or sales, you are meeting many more than 28 people so your sphere of influence is jaw-dropping.

The Christmas tree lights are ablaze. Because you lit them! But remember, each of those Christmas tree lights has their own network, equally as messy as yours. You, on a good day, have helped spark light into their network too.

But beware! The ripple also works with negativity. And remember, it’s far easier to be negative. This positive malarkey is a learned behaviour. It takes commitment and a little effort. At Art of Brill, we can help that learning process.

Bottom line?

If you need to change your attitude, then do so. Nobody’s going to do it for you. If you can’t be bothered to be happy for yourself, cultivate it for those closest to you.

Be the happy friend, the positive brother/sister and the upbeat neighbour. This festive season, why not commit to being the light.

Get bothered for THEM!

Have an amazing Christmas 🎅🏼🎄

Andy and the team x

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