You may not have guessed this about me, but I studied Economics at University.
Like most undergrad students, a lot of my days involved watching FRIENDS reruns with my roomies and wishing we were Jennifer Aniston. We indulged in our network as it provided a buffer, and spending time with my friends (observing a group of FRIENDS) protected me from the stress of my unfinished Econometrics calculations.
Even though I have since swapped the calculator for crystals, I can never help but to include an economic theory in my writing because they always prove so darn relevant, and can legitimate esoteric matters of the universe for a wider audience. This is my main purpose after all – to inspire EVERYONE to use their connection to the universe in order to create their dream life and make the world a much happier place…
How does this relate to FRIENDS? Well, they had a great network! If there was only Monica and Ross on that orange sofa in Central Perk all day, they wouldn’t have had so much fun. When Chandler, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel all joined, their life would have improved incrementally as they all brought something different to the group and enjoyed the witty repartee that bounced between them.
Their network became more valuable to each of them, the more people that were part of it. The same is true for you too, because the more rich and fulfilling relationships you have in your life – the happier you will feel and the more value you will be able to provide to others. In economic terms, this is demand-side economies of scale resulting from a network effect: the positive effect on a network from having more people join it.
I felt inspired to write this article after seeing a few research studies bouncing around proving that the highest indicator of our happiness is the strength and size of our network. Each extra bond we make has a positive effect on our happiness, and it will benefit the other person too, as they are also adding a valuable person to their network (you!). We all add value to each other’s lives, because we all have so much value within us to share.
Nowadays, our network implies ‘virtual’ rather than our nearest and dearest who we can always trust to be there for us and rush to our side in times of crisis. But a large online following cannot defend against a feeling of loneliness, and often only exacerbates the problem. The network effect will only blossom when positivity meets positivity, which will always attract more positive people to expand the network further. Really we are all part of a much deeper interconnected network, but in many places the focus has shifted from positive to negative.
As science and economics have shown us many times over, happiness is interwoven within the love and commitment we have to one another. As religion told us, “loving thy neighbour” is how we remain sane, happy, and derive value from our lives. All disciplines give us the same answer.
The question is: are we paying attention?