The Secret to Happiness Is Choosing the Right Friends, Says Neuroscientist

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You know how people always say “Money can’t buy happiness”? Well, turns out they’re kind of right.

According to neuroscientist Moran Cerf from Northwestern University, you can’t exactly find true happiness in material possessions or bags of money no matter how hard you try. I mean, you can buy some happiness with a sports car or a vacation to Bora Bora or something, but not actual long-lasting bliss.

According to Dr. Cerf, the secret to real happiness is spending lots of quality time with your best friends who make you laugh and feel good, because it causes your brainwaves to mimic theirs, and if their brainwaves are happy, you’ll be happy, too.

You are who your friends are, after all.

Let me elaborate a little with a little neuroscience lesson: The brain is an electrochemical organ that functions using actual electrical power, and it radiates this activity in the form of brainwaves. For instance, when your brain is active, aroused, and engaged, it generates beta waves, which are low in amplitude, but are the fastest type of brainwave at 15 to 40 cycles per second.

Other types of brainwaves include gamma, alpha, theta, and delta, and each is associated with a different mood state. Gamma waves, for example, are associated with intense feelings of satisfaction. You get the idea, right?


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So, what Dr. Cerf is saying is that we’re genuinely happier when we surround ourselves with people who have positive brainwaves, because our brains pick up on those waves and mirror them. It all happens subconsciously, so we’re not even aware that we’re basically adopting the mood states of the people around us.

“This means the people you hang out with actually have an impact on your engagement with reality beyond what you can explain. And one of the effects is you become alike,” Dr. Cerf explains.


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When you think about it, though, it makes complete sense, because if you were to hang out with a major Debbie Downer all day who just bitches and moans about anything and everything, you’d feel bummed out and drained. Why? Because your brain is mimicking those sad, depressed brainwaves.

This brain syncing is called neural coupling, where your brain begins to “couple,” or mirror, another person’s brain. Spend too much time with a sad person, and you’ll also feel sad for absolutely no reason…and that’s precisely why you need to choose your friends very carefully. 

The good doctor’s prescription for you is to find yourself some buddies who have similar interests, or who have fantastic personality traits you’d love to have, and you’ll be set for life. Simple, right?

H/T: Daily Mail