Get tips on growing positive relationships

Happiness is contagious! When we surround ourselves with happy people, we tend to feel happier. The same is true that if you’re happy and positive, you have a big effect on those around you. You’re probably more powerful than you know.

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Get Your Friends on Board to Meet Healthy Goals

By nature, we surround ourselves with people who are similar to us, not only politically, socially, and geographically, but also, surprisingly, genetically similar. These social networks are powerful, helping us meet goals, offering support, and giving us a lift when times are tough.

Our friends and family keep us motivated and can directly affect how we succeed at our goals. If you find you’re slipping on your commitment to losing weight, find a friend who is trying to do the same. Share healthy recipes, exercise together, or check in regularly to keep each other motivated. We are much more likely to succeed at healthy habits if people close to us, especially spouses, are also trying to get healthy.

Don’t despair if you feel like your immediate group of friends don’t share your passion for a daily walk. You can join a walking group or weight-loss group or even see if you can start one in your office or neighborhood.

Keep a Circle of Happiness Around You

As with goals and healthy behaviors, our circle of friends influences our mood, both in the real world and on social media. By focusing on being more positive, you’ll help your friends keep their spirits up and attract more happy people to you, thereby growing your circle of happiness.

Being geographically close to happy people has the strongest effect on making you happy, but that effect can spread out to friends of friends. Coworkers don’t seem to have a strong effect on our happiness, which may be a good thing, depending on where you work.

On Facebook and other social media, positive status updates beget more positive updates. Of course, the flip side it true too, but the good news is that positive posts spread faster than negative posts. By staying cheerful, you can set off a chain reaction of positivity. If you’re seeking comfort, try reaching out to close friends in a private message to get personal advice, rather than getting broad comments or starting a chain of complaints through a general status update.

If you feel you’re being brought down by negativity online, clean up your news feed by hiding some of those Debbie Downers for a little while.

Give Yourself Some Positive Motivation

We all go through ups and downs, and sometimes it can be hard to be the smiling face in the group. A few websites online have challenges to get you started and keep you going. For those who love snapping photos, try 100 Happy Days. Post a photo every day of something that made you happy. If you’re a more private person, Happify has games and activities online designed to boost your positive emotions. Give it a try, and see if being more positive makes a difference in your life, and, of course, ask a friend to do it with you.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.