Friday, June 01, 2012

Why Happiness Matters in Networks

Networks of people are all around us. They are the most ubiquitous dimensions of communities and organizations, economies and affiliations.

Networks are boundaryless patterns of connections between and among people. They cross geographical, digital, demographic, ideological, economic, social, and ideological boundaries. Networks intersect and overlap. Everyone on the planet is a member of at least one network and all networks are ultimately connected.

Everyone in a network has three circles of connections. In their first circle are people we are closest to. Second circle people are people we know more casually. Third circle people are people we don’t even know exist, but are two steps from us through our first and second circle people.

We can measure growth in networks in several important ways.

  • How many circle connections people have with others in their networks
  • How collaborative people are with others in their networks
  • How much people share what they know and have with others in their networks
  • How many different kinds of networks people belong to
  • How many active network weavers are engaged in networks.

  • The pivotal indicator is the scope of network weaver engagement in networks. The other four indicators are accelerated by the work of network weavers who instigate, facilitate, and enrich connections in networks.

    As these indicators increase, the quality and impact of the network grows in ways that benefit the individual members of the network and the network as a dynamic whole.

    The evidence indicates that people have measurably better health, work, well-being, optimism, and engagement in their life when they are connected to happier networks.

    We can build on these indicators by adding happiness indicators to the mix. We start with the five prime happiness practices that become principles for the articulation of network growth indicators: appreciation, generosity, interest, lightness, and easy.

    Here are just a few of many possible measurable happiness indicators in networks.

  • Expressions of gratitude and appreciation
  • Sharing of success, progress, and dream stories
  • Closing triangles and expanding circles through personal introductions
  • Random acts of kindness and generosity
  • People learning and discovering new things together
  • Planned and unplanned open invite entertainment and celebration events
  • Online spaces making resource location and collaboration easier

  • When we consider the connection rather than the individual as the fundamental unit of networks, we can begin to talk about creating happier connections where these indicators are evident in intention and expression throughout networks. They become principles shaping the critical contributions of network weavers.

    As we now know from the research, when connections are happier, people in these connections are more naturally productive, generous, creative, courageous, realistic, passionate, resilient, and healthier. As it turns out, these are also the qualities of strong and growing networks.

    The whole thrivancy of networks grows when more people become connected to already happier connections and bring more happiness to the connections they have. This is how happiness scales organically through networks. This is how we move from thinking about growth just in quantities, densities, and reaches of connections to the vibrant and contagious quality of connections that add to the measurable well-being of the network.


    For more on Jack's work and writing on happiness, visit