What does it take to be happy? Why some people are always with a smile on their face enjoying every moment of life and others seem to be nagging all day and night, feeling like a sour lemon and reproduce negative sentiments and actions?
The answer partly lies to the discovery of the “happiness gene”, which is considered mainly responsible why some people tend to be almost always on a happy mood while others seem to be depressed.
The gene which regulates the movement of serotonin in the brain has been labeled the “happiness gene” by researchers from the London School of Economics and reported in the Journal of Human Genetics. This is the first study to demonstrate a direct link between an individual’s happiness and a specific genetic condition. The researchers measured people’s satisfaction with life to define happiness.
Behavioral economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and team gathered genetic information from over 2,500 individuals in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They focused on which functional variant of the 5-HTT gene the participants possessed.
The 5-HTT gene has the operating code for serotonin transporters within our neuron cell walls. This gene has an allele (variation) which can be either short or long. The long allele works better, has more gene expression and more serotonin transporters in the cell membrane. We can have a genotype which may be short-short, long-long, short-long, or long-short – this we inherit from our parents.
The researchers asked participants this question: “How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?”
They could answer: “Very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, neither”. They then compared participants’ genotypes with their answers.
The researchers found that:
- 35% of those with the long-long version of the gene were very satisfied with their life
- 34% of those with the long-long version were satisfied with their life
- 19% of those with the short-short version were very satisfied/satisfied with their life
- 26% of those with the short-short version were dissatisfied with their life
- 20% of those with the long-long version were dissatisfied with their life
- Those with one long allele had an 8.5% higher chance of being very satisfied compared to those with the short-short version
- Those with two long alleles had a 17% higher chance of being very satisfied compared to those with the short-short version
Jan-Emmanuel De Neve said: “It has long been suspected that this gene plays a role in mental health but this is the first study to show that it is instrumental in shaping our individual happiness levels.The results of our study suggest a strong link between happiness and this functional variation in the 5-HTT gene. Of course, our well-being isn’t determined by this one gene – other genes and especially experience throughout the course of life will continue to explain the majority of variation in individual happiness. But this finding helps to explain why we each have a unique baseline level of happiness and why some people tend to be naturally happier than others, and that’s in no small part due to our individual genetic make-up.” (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/224536.php)
That means that “yes” some of us may have the “happy gene” more than others BUT the main experience and our path is mainly influenced by the way we choose to experience things throughout our life. There is a significant step a person must take, in order for him to see the things that come on his way as a learning procedure and therefore enjoy the journey of every new experience.
“Happy genes” may be the discovery of the reason why some people tend to be more happy than others, but the discovery of your inner self and they way you choose to experience new paradigms and challenges lies totally in your own self –awareness and determination to live the life we choose.