Quiet leaders are dedicated men and women who live with goodness and lead by loving example in everyday life.

They embody a unique form of leadership that is wholly unspoken. Rather than preaching openly and aloud, quiet leaders strive to embody selflessness, inherent optimism, and perpetual positivity in such a way that influences others to subtly emulate their behavior — whether they consciously realize it or not.

And when they do, they in essence become a quiet leader’s followers.

These “everyday” leaders seek to be conduits of happiness — dedicated channels through which happiness, giving, and goodness can pass on to family, friends, and strangers. They strive to be conduits for happiness because they believe it can create a powerful chain reaction and radically influence goodness in others. Now, recent research has given some scientific evidence to support a historically understood and uniquely human characteristic of social interaction — that happiness is contagious.

Like a Virus, Happiness is Contagious

According to a 20-year study of 4,739 people by researchers at University of California-San Diego, happiness behaves much like an actual virus. Happiness can spread through local populations and social networks — from one person to another — and significantly affect and influence people’s moods:

“People who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy themselves. And it’s not only people in our immediate circles who make a difference—it’s the people surrounding the people we know.”

According to the study, Your probability of being happy rises:

  • 15.3 percent if a friend or family member is happy;
  • 9.8 percent if friends of your friend or family member are happy;
  • 5.6 percent if friends of the friends of your friend or family member are happy.

Dr. James Fowler, the author of the study, believes happiness not only impacts those we directly interact with, but that our interactions carry into the way they interact with others, and so on:

“Imagine several pebbles thrown into a pool of water that send ripples outward, said Fowler, an associate professor of political science. Each pebble represents a happy person and the waves the impact of that person’s mood on others. This impact, his study found, extends through several degrees of separation, to the friends of a person’s friends.”

The effect of one’s mood on others has been a subject of human intrigue for generations. Though largely an indescribable sensation, humans can — even subconsciously — detect subtitles in the moods, attitudes, energies, or “vibes” of those with whom they interact.

The Small Stuff Truly Adds Up

Quiet leaders understand that the smallest efforts can go a long way in radically influencing goodness in others — even actions as seemingly minute and insignificant as smiling at a stranger. And so quiet leaders look to be conduits of happiness in day to day life. They seek to spread happiness to those they interact with, while intercepting negativity and unpleasant emotions and turning them into positives.

Quiet leaders are conduits for happiness not because it’s easy, but because it is an inherently good quality that real leaders embody: putting others before the Self. In spite of the fact that the goodness quiet leaders reap is not always evident or visible, they still strive every day to undertake an optimistic mindset and a positive energy with the quiet hope that maybe — just maybe — others will follow their example and live their lives, similarly, for others.