What is happiness and what determines it, the questions many of us thought of in some phase of our life. Most of us will not agree with this, that genes play crucial roles in our happiness. If there are happiness genes, then why do happy people have stressed children?
Basic research on well-being and wellness has identified important insights for individual happiness. People generally tend to have a baseline happiness level. Studies suggest that around 50% of the happiness score in humans can be subjective to genetic markers. The variation in the initial promotor region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) can be a valuable candidate for much better understanding the heterogeneity in individuals respect to happiness. A research study found very promising evidence that a gene named 5-HTTLPR is associated with higher life satisfaction in people.
The 5-HTT gene is comprised of a 44-base pair differential tandem repeat polymorphism in 5-HTTLPR. The region is associated to be the reason for variation in the RNA to protein efficiency. The polymorphism in ‘long’ (528 base pair region) and ‘short’ (484 base pair region) produces the same protein, but higher basal activity was found in the the long allele which is approximately three times higher. Thats why, more 5-HTT mRNA and protein was produced by the long variant and it the difference was significant. The long polymorphism produced more serotonin transporters in the cell membrane due the increase in genetic expression (Dr Emmanuel).
A recent DNA study of more than thousand people, suggests that long 5-HTTLPR allele may also influence optimism. Genetic association studies of Myriad also suggest that 5-HTT and Serotonin has a crucial role in mental health. The short 5-HTTLPR allele was associated to risk allele for anxiety & depression, and subsequent studies also report that approximately 10% of change was found to be contingent upon serotonin transporters (Dr. Fox). According to famous psychotherapist Lyubomirsky, around 50% of your ability to be happy is makeup by your genes.
Although happiness is genetic, you can also control a lot of things to live a happier life. The chart suggests that the genes that we inherit from our parents play a decisive and big role in how fulfilled and happy we feel. With the help of engagement in healthy mental and physical habits, people can have impacts on their own happiness. Happiness is mainly driven by three key components, life satisfaction, day-to-day engagement and purpose in life. These are related to positive emotions, relationships and leisure time, career goals, aspirations and hobbies. There are also some common practical ways to find some happiness and joy in the regular life.
The genotype 5-HTTLPR ‘long’ was found to be responsible for and associated with positive nature and self life satisfaction whereas, genotype 5-HTTLPR ‘short’ was found to be associated with depression and anxiety-related problems. Although multiple studies and research suggest that happiness is inherited through some genes to some extent, you cant think to limited yourself by your DNA. When you have your mindset right and you practice it, you can achieve how to feel happy. Exercise, volunteering, nature, and attention to some smart gratitude practices are the things you can do to improve or enhance your sense of well-being, purpose of life, life satisfaction, and ultimately, happiness.