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Scientists say 40% of your happiness is genetic. But it isn’t too late nor the end

by Madonna Watts D'Souza

Scientists say 40% of your happiness is genetic. But it isn’t too late nor the end

December 13, 2020

Scientists have found out specific genetic variations lead to having a higher satisfaction in life. Although 40% of your genes are responsible for happiness, that is not the sole factor responsible for it.

Have you ever wondered why one of your friends or your relatives seems happier and giggling most of the time? Maybe someone has told you that you or your family seem quite happy-go-lucky in life. You potentially thought that your upbringing or your culture influenced you to be that way. But what if we tell you that the reason is deeper than you think. Deep inside your body, in the nucleus is one of the potential reasons why you or someone is happier in life as compared to the rest.

Your genetics influence your happiness. Sounds bizarre right? But not according to psychotherapist Susan Zinn. Zinn owns a therapy centre in Santa Monica, California. She asserts that about 40% of a human’s happiness and well being is purely genetic.
Although quite a strong claim, there is research from 2016 to back up her statement.
Research from 2011 stated that approximately 32%-40% of human happiness was caused by genetic variations. It was specifically noted that a specific variation in the gene 5-HTTLPR had participants report of higher satisfaction from life.

What do studies say? And does that mean I'll be sad for life because my genetics don't match?

“This analysis suggests that genetic factors significantly influence individual subjective well-being and a particular genotype—5-HTTLPR ‘long’—is identified as having a sizeable positive association with self-reported life satisfaction. The 5-HTTLPR ‘short’ genotype has been thoroughly studied as a risk allele for depression and anxiety-related disorders,” said the authors of the research. However, this is only the first of pieces of evidence to link genetic with happiness. Additional research is required. 

Another research from 2016 draws a direct line between genetics and happiness. The study found out specific genes or genetic variations directly linked with increased levels of being happy in life from almost 300,000 participants! The study was able to identify three genetic variants linked with an overall state of well-being. But both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the levels of emotional well-being. They additionally pinned down two other variants related to depression while another eleven variants associated with neuroticism.

However, the authors of the research did state that the limited amount of genes found were due to the tiny sample size. Further research needs to be done to understand the potential deep relationship between genetics and human emotions. 

But does that mean your happiness solely relies on Genetics? Absolutely Not! Zinn says: “It is completely possible to rewire our brains for happiness. You have a choice. It’s no different than deciding what to wear or what food to order. When it comes to happiness, there’s a lot we can do about it.”

Of course, happiness attracts everyone and having a contagious personality is a blessing. So you may ask us how you can be happier in life? The answer lies beyond the thresholds and criteria laid down by society.

In several cultures nowadays, happiness is equated with a larger wallet and a successful career in life. Although there is research which says having financial freedom leads to increased happiness, it is not the ultimate truth. There are various ways in which one can increase their innate satisfaction with life.

Methods like meditation, exercise, a clean diet, engaging in activities you love, laughing a little bit more, etc. can help you be happier in life. Practising gratefulness and learning to be content in life will help you to not only be happy but achieve what you want.

Venturing out into nature is one of the easiest ways to feel more content in life. A study published earlier in 2020 analysed
31,534 photos posted on social media from 185 nations and concluded that nature was present in pictures which depicted important ceremonies or moments such as a honeymoon, vacations, engaging activities, etc. but was significantly lesser in daily life routines. It links the presence of nature with a higher happiness score and higher life satisfaction. The research also serves as evidence for the ‘Biophilia Hypothesis’. 

The Biophilia Hypothesis was proposed in 1984 by Edward O. Wilson. He defined it as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. It means nothing but Humans may possess the innate gravitation to establish connections and a sense of relativity with nature or other forms of life on earth.

Happiness is a necessity for every human on earth. While there are ways which can help people boost their sense of contentment with life, it is interesting to know about the potential connections between a person’s genes and their emotional well being. So why not go out into nature or do something you love or laugh at something silly? You deserve to have a lovely smile plastered on your face.

Also Read: Artificial Intelligence Making Human Babies

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