Among my favorite symbols of the holiday season are the words “Ho Ho Ho.” It’s so cheerful--simply a short and to-the-point message of happiness. I buy any and all holiday decorations that have these three little words written on it. I like having the laughter around me, even in its written form. But after reading this new research, I’m wondering if my “ho ho ho” collection is doing more good for me than I ever realized.

Many researchers in neuroscience believe happiness is a personal experience or an individualistic state. Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School, is trying to prove otherwise. His new study has followed a large group of people for 20 years and suggests that happiness is actually contagious. Dr. Christakis authored the study, which was published in a British journal this month.

From 1983 to 2003 the study analyzed and collected data regarding the happiness level of 4,739 people and their connections with several thousand others — spouses, relatives, close friends, neighbors and co-workers. He says, “There’s kind of an emotional quiet riot that occurs and takes on a life of its own, that people themselves may be unaware of. Emotions have a collective existence — they are not just an individual phenomenon.”

Being around happy people elevates our mood and lifts our spirits. Seeing an act of kindness or hearing of a friend’s positive experience brings us contentment. We are happy just knowing someone else is happy. I’ve reported other research citing that happy people get sick less and have fewer wrinkles. Great! It’s the perfect time of year to spread around smooth skin and good health as well as happiness. Besides, it’s way more fun to catch than a cold!

The happiness study was financed by the National Institute on Aging and is getting attention because it is different. Some say it is groundbreaking while others are skeptical. Since it’s the holiday season why don’t we each conduct our own personal study to determine just how it feels to spread joy and cheer. The results to my “personal happiness study” are in and I’ve determined that my “Ho Ho Ho” collection shall continue!

It makes me smile.

See you soon.

Love and health,

Loa

LOA BLASUCCI is an author and owner of All Health’s Breaking Loose Wellness Retreats. Gotoloa.com.