one minute for happiness

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. All it takes to make a difference is just one of those. One minute. That’s all it takes to make someone change their state of mind. One minute. That’s all it takes to make happiness contagious…

One minute. That’s all it takes.

One minute represents approximately 0.07% or about a fourteenth of a percent of the entire day. What else does it represent?

  • The time it takes to brush your teeth.
  • The time it takes to sing a national anthem.
  • The time it takes to check the weather.
  • The time it takes to heat up leftovers.
  • The time it takes to download and install Firefox.
  • The time it takes to write the Schrödinger equation, twice.
  • The time it takes to build a Jenga tower.
  • The time it takes to take out cash at the ATM.
  • The time it takes to pump gas.
  • The time it takes to derive any non-relativistic, Newtonian equation of motion.
  • The time it takes to chug 2 sodas.
  • The time it takes a space shuttle to go about 300 miles when in orbit.
  • The time it takes to make a sandwich.
  • The time it takes to take your temperature.
  • The time it takes to stretch your hamstrings.
  • The time it takes to watch two commercials.

Okay so I got a little carried away with that one. But that’s a good creativity exercise! Anyways, it really does put into perspective what you can do with a minute of time. So if you could take one minute each day and devote it to making someone else happy, could you do it?

Happiness is truly contagious. You see a man smiling on the bus and it makes you happy. An elderly woman making a wise crack about the speed of her shopping cart in the condiments section and you’re chuckled (that happened yesterday). Two people hugging on the street and you feel a rush of comfort. And that’s the funny thing: happiness comes in such simple forms. It doesn’t take money or success or fame or victory but just a simple act of kindness, show of emotion, compliment, or generally positive vibe.

With that I do want to be clear of one thing. Happiness is not always something gained or transmitted through external means, but on some days that minute is surely well spent through internal reflection and thought. That’s not selfish – that’s normal. But in a balanced world what you take is what you should give – double the amount you give back the next day.

So obviously transmissible happiness can be for yourself or for someone else, for a group of people, for a company, for a stranger, for an imaginative thought, for a spiritual state, etc. So what are some examples of transmission routes?

  • Make a phone call or send an email.
  • Give feedback on a paper, post, product, service.
  • Offer directions to someone lost.
  • Read an article and write your thoughts.
  • Carry something.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Give up your seat.
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Double your tip.
  • Doodle.

The constant transmission and contagiousness of happiness. Mathematically, that makes me think of epidemic models. Well, that’s not far off. I’d propose that happiness could easily follow a modified epidemic model:

S = Susceptible = those who aren’t aware of how contagious it is
E = Exposed = those infected but keeping it internal
I = Infected = those hit by the smiling bug and actively passing it along
Standard Contact Rate (Susceptible –> Infected/Exposed) = 1 per day

Everyone starts as Susceptible, and the Exposed and Infected can toggle as they generate happiness internally some days and expose others the next day. You could take into account the doubling of internal happiness to double the Contact Rate on a subsequent day for the Exposed group. A new Susceptible population would emerge each day through birth, and most everyone would die happy. A pretty fun, dynamic model of happiness transmission.

Note: If happiness started with one person and simply doubled each day, it would only take a little over a month to infect or expose happiness to the entire global population (obviously ignoring geographic and other constraints).

In the end, my main point is that you can do something every single day to create happiness, and the mechanisms by which you can create happiness are very simple ones. It only takes one minute each day to give that purest gift of all. Because with a heart and a smile, the world’s happiness is truly in the palm of your hands.


Quotes/Links

  • “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – Aristotle
  • “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
  • “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” – Maxim Gorky
  • The Happiness Epidemic – by David Hernandez
  • Bhutan and the measuring of quality of life through Gross National Happiness
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