Here’s a random thought….
Depressed people tend to make those
around them more depressed. Essentially,
being around depressed people is depressing. Happy people don’t like hanging out w depressed people. Happy people tend to disassociate themselves
from complainers. And depressed people
actually enjoy the company of others they can commiserate with one another. This leads to a circle of reinforcing
depressing views and such where depressed people get even more depressed by
virtue of who they hang out with.
Happy people, by contrast, tend to
generally associate themselves with other happy people. And happiness is contagious. So this yields to a virtuous circle of the
happy people getting even happier because of who they choose to hang out with.
So … does
that mean we live in two worlds of happy and unhappy people? my guess is that in some ways we do. Pods of people form in various cliques …
some of them around happy and unhappy lines. Now people can transcend these labels – families have their own pods as
well as sports teams (where criteria of the pod is based on something other
than friendship), but often people of relative happiness stick together. At least this is my theory. And this being so even though happiness is
not based on social economic status (there are a lot of unhappy rich people
too), gender, or race.
Chris Yeh and I have talked about this a bunch and the next Silicon Valley Junto meeting. You will get an email. I had already linked to your post on whether it’s immoral to be unhappy on the Junto wiki – http://svjunto.wikispaces.com/The+Good+Life
You should come – April 12th at Cafe Bastille in SF at 12:30 PM. It’s a fascinating topic.
In other news…I met/talked w/ Rebecca Sacerdoti today. Great person. I should stop by her office more!
Here’s where I think the theory gets weak. I don’t think happiness and sadness are absolute, permanent states. Most people are happy some of the time and sad at other times. So that’s how the kind of clustering you describe is hard to observe so clearly. I do agree that there is some level of clustering, for sure.
I think you might be onto something, Auren – definitely some truth to this. It’s sort of like conferences: you have some that attract all the legit people, and some that consist solely of 100% “independent consultants” desperate to conceal their unemployment.
That being said, I find that it’s important for me to spend time with depressed people. It reminds me how far I’ve come since suffering from chronic depression myself, but also how imperative it is to help others make that leap as well. Of course, some people make you want to just give up. It’s a delicate balance. And there are definitely people I stopped hanging out with since finding greater happiness. For me, it comes down to this: Do you actually want things to get better? If so, I’ll be there.
Gabe, I think you are nuts – please
Auren, nice post, I usually read the first three lines before having my attention redirect. I definetly agree about the gravitational effects – The other day I was doing a poll of my friends and realized that 80% of them have MARRIED parents (my parents are married) and in a state with a 75% divorce rate thats pretty rare. And if you are wondering why I am commenting, I”m actually trying to figure out what has more readers, you or Noah 🙂
Well, this is only true if only only two opposing emotional states (happiness and unhappiness) exist. Emotional states are complex and tend to vary, so at a minimum each of us bounces from one circle to the other. Do you discard your friends if they for some reason one day are unhappy?