Can you catch happiness?

If you had a virus you would probably want to avoid passing it on to friends and colleagues, but did you know emotion travels over social networks in much the same way viruses do?

That’s not to say emotions are like diseases of course: being grumpy won’t make you or the people around you sick. But research shows that wellbeing is shared within networks and spreads based on social ties, so your wellbeing can have a direct impact on the people around you – not just with friends and family, but in work too.

Low wellbeing in workplaces is associated with a range of health and business problems such as increased absences, lower productivity and higher health insurance costs, so focusing on improving the wellbeing of employees is important for the bottom line as well as its ethical implications.

Make emotional contagion work for you: if you run a business, boosting the wellbeing of staff could result in a contagion with positive implications for the overall health of the business, in all senses. You can use this principle in all your relationships too: are you spreading good moods, or bringing people down? So think about what moods your people are passing on, to friends, colleagues and customers, and harness emotional contagion to benefit everyone.

Learn more about your mind in our illustrated guides, The Mind Manual and A Mind for Business, published by Hamlyn Press and Pearson/FT.