A few years ago I was excited to hear snippets on the radio and in the news about happiness research that showed your level of happiness was affected by the happiness levels of your neighbors. In fact it can be contageous but so can many other qualities. I am likely the last person to actually hear of the book written by the authors Nicholas A. Christakis, MD.PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD of this research but having found it this week can hardly wait to share this with you. This fabulous book looks at their years of research into the social networks and how emotions and many other patterns travel through them.
The groups we belong to form super organisms with a field of intelligence or consciousness of its own that records the history of the group, the rules for belonging, and keeps us connected. It explains how anything from the flu to happiness can spread contiguously throughout a network. One of their intriguing book club questions asks: “How do your friends’ moods affect you? In what ways do people’s emotions, including their happiness, reflect group behavior, like the flocking of birds? ”
One thing I do hear repeatedly from doing Repatterning sessions is the situation where individuals appear to be feeling the feelings of those in their life and frequently not even in the room! “Connected” looks at the research that concludes this is more than possible though we take these feelings on as our own. An example from the book – your husband is on his way home and unknown to you he is angry. For no conscious reason you also start feeling angry. He arrives home hoping to talk about his bad day and why he’s feeling angry, but before he can say a few words, your anger has triggered a downward spiralling argument. It may be hours or days before the downward cycle is corrected. Who would know that it was more of a network problem than anything else?
“Connected” is a fascinating book, with many compelling graphs and illustrations that show how we link to each other or not. It will inspire you to think of your goals beyond the 4 walls of your own existence to the influence of the world at large. You may find yourself setting intentions for the world as much as for yourself – I know I am. For those of you involved in my online group proxy sessions, looking for some rational reason as to why they may work, this could constitute the evidence or at least in part explain a few things that appear mystical.
The authors have provided a lovely website to go with the book, where you will find some stimulating book club questions, audios and video clips, a Facebook application (really wild!) and more. Here is the link: http://www.ConnectedTheBook.com . Also to really get launched into this material take 20 minutes and view the TED lecture with one of the authors Nikolas Christalis which I have on the bottom of my blog (scroll way down) or at this direct link: http://vodpod.com/watch/3590261-nicholas-christakis-the-hidden-influence-of-social-networks?u=carolynwinter&c=carolynwinter – I am sure you will find it illuminating.