Group Influence

Welcome to the first Happy Nation newsletter!

Happy Nation aims to promote individual and social happiness. This means recognising that none of us is an island and that our happiness is deeply affected by the society we live in.

Ever noticed that some people, or groups of people, make you feel good, while others bring you down? The culture of a workplace or group of friends makes a huge difference to how we feel when we’re at work or with those friends.

In one group, gossiping might be the done thing; in another, it may normal to compete with one another or use putdowns as a form of humour. You might find yourself doing the same, even though you don’t really like it. If so, you’re being influenced by the dominant culture of that group.

The interesting thing about group culture is that we are not just influenced by it – we also play a part in creating it. So, if the dominant culture of a group is about laughter and valuing each other and helping one another out, each time you do those things, you unconsciously influence others to do the same. But the same goes for the less desirable aspects – each time you gossip, or put someone down, you make it more acceptable – even expected – that others do the same.

This is where you can make a difference. Your personal decision not to engage in those aspects of group culture you don’t like – and to replace them with ways that make people feel good – can begin to steer the whole group towards a more supportive culture. And I believe that happy, inclusive social groups are our strongest hope for a nation of happy individuals.

Generosity of Friends

The following comes from Jo Robertson:

Recently my second son was graduating from university in Dunedin. I wanted to attend with my three other children to celebrate with him. However, I live in Hamilton and was concerned about the expense of travelling there and accommodation costs for us all.

Wonderfully, the trip was made possible through the generosity and kindness of various friends who, among other things, lent us their car and offered us places to stay along the way. We also received other forms of encouragement and support. Each person’s contribution helped create a special family time – for which we are all extremely grateful.