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Simply hanging out with happy people can boost your mood, says science


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Photo: Stocksy/Happy Friends

It’s true what they say about being the company you keep. Really—it’s science.

new study in Royal Society Open Science found that moods spread across friend groups like a social contagion (not as scary as it sounds), meaning a friend who’s in a bad mood can make you feel worse just by being nearby, and the same is true of the cheery pal who woke up on the right side of bed.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 middle and high school students with incremental check-ins throughout a period ranging in time from six months to a year. As part of the check-ins, depression screenings were administered to identify any common thread among the moods, feelings, and levels of happiness levels in the friends.

“Following the evidence-based advice for improving mood—like exercise, sleeping well, and managing stress—can help your friends, too.”

The study found evidence of vibes—happy, sad, or otherwise—spreading across friend groups like wild fire (or, rather, news of cheaper avocados to Whole Foods shoppers). But though low moods were found to be socially catching, clinical depression was not.

But t’s important that you pull your weight in this circuital cycle of happiness. Robert Eyre, lead author of the study, told Health, “Following the evidence-based advice for improving mood—like exercise, sleeping well, and managing stress—can help your friends, too.”

So misery may very well love company, but being around an upbeat person might make your outlook sunnier.

Friends are the bomb. Here’s how to stay close to your BFFs after they get married. Plus, these are the things every woman should know about friendship.