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Happiness is given by… genes

Happiness is given by… genes

Endless contentment is almost impossible, a new study suggests. But it can be surprisingly close to many of us. The findings of this study may explain why some people are unhappy despite the fact that they are lucky, while others remain happy even in critical situations. "There have been assumptions among psychologists that happiness is primarily determined by genes and is determined by personality traits even before we are born," says Richard Lucas, director of the latest study and professor of psychology at Michigan State University.

Endless contentment is almost impossible, a new study suggests. But it can be surprisingly close to many of us. The findings of this study may explain why some people are unhappy despite the fact that they are lucky, while others remain happy even in critical situations. "There have been assumptions among psychologists that happiness is primarily determined by genes and is determined by personality traits even before we are born," says Richard Lucas, director of the latest study and professor of psychology at Michigan State University.
The psychologist considers that the genes determine in a proportion of one third or even half that a person feels happy or not.

Other factors are divided between major events that can change our life, such as winning the lottery or losing someone dear, but also daily events, such as stress at work or getting stuck in traffic. US researchers analyzed data from two recent studies, one German and one British, in which over 17,000 people participated. Inherited predispositions for contentment and happiness have proven to be consistent factors over the years. The level of satisfaction has changed after certain periods, depending on the major events in the individual's life. "For example, a person who married in 1990 may experience a more intense sense of happiness for that year," explained psychologist Richard Lucas.
Another psychologist, from Michigan's Hope College, agrees with the findings of his colleagues, who actually demonstrate that "our emotional response to positive or negative events has a much shorter life than the world would be tempted to believe." David Myers also believes that feeling of well-being is also influenced by lifestyle.
Another study shows that there are differences according to gender. Thus, Swedish researchers claim that a gene responsible for the onset of depression in girls can actually protect boys from depressive symptoms. The two genes studied by scientists at the University of Uppsala, 5-HTT and MAOA, play a role in how the brain "manages" the signal given by certain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin.
Read the whole article in: The Thought
February 28, 2007