As this is my last blog for the year, I want to end 2008 on a light and happy note . . . which brings to mind a recent study on happiness. New research (recently published in the British Medical Journal) indicates that happiness is contagious: “. . . in a social network, happiness spreads among people up to three degrees removed from one another.” (“Happiness is Contagious in Social Networks” by Elizabeth Landau, CNN.com.) In other words, when you are happy, your happiness will affect a friend of a friend of a friend.
The study (authored by James Fowler, a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at San Diego and Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School) on which this conclusion is based found that a person will be 15% more likely to be happy if a direct friend is happy, 10% more likely to be happy if a friend of a friend is happy and 6% more likely to be happy if it is a friend of a friend of a friend who is happy.
What does this have to do with mediation and negotiation? Actually, quite a lot. If you walk into a mediation or negotiation feeling happy, your good mood will be contagious: your happiness will spread to others so that they, too, are in good moods. And, people in good moods tend to resolve their disputes. At the very least, the negotiations will go a lot more smoothly. Try it! I have, and found that it works. When I conduct mediations feeling happy and positive, my outlook tends to infect the parties, and more often than not, the dispute settles.
So. . . at this time of year, I want to wish everyone a truly happy holiday and a truly healthy and Happy New Year! The best gift you can give and receive is happiness! So, Be Happy!
Happy holidays. . . . I will be back in early January 2009!