The archaic argument that arhants are selfish for focusing on their own liberation just got even weaker. A study published today in the British Journal BJM suggests that happiness is contagious, with its 20-year research showing that a neighbor’s joy increases a person’s chance of being happy by 34 percent. James H. Fowler, a political scientist at UC San Diego and a co-author of the study, told the New York Times that “if your friend’s friend becomes happy, that has a bigger impact on you being happy than putting an extra $5,000 in your pocket.” While the authors of the study are advising spreading the joy around, Fowler noted “We are not giving you the advice to start smiling at everyone you meet in New York. That would be dangerous.”
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.