Health, Zoomer Report

Happiness and Genes

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Is happiness in our genes? The dominant theory in psychology has been the idea that long-term happiness in adults is essentially stable, or has a set-point, relying on genetic factors, including personality traits moulded and expressed early in life.

Now this idea has been challenged by research from Germany published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It found feelings of happiness and well-being respond to external factors such as healthy lifestyle, religion and working hours.

The lead author says the findings suggest genes only account for around 50 per cent of well-being.

The rest depends on the choices we make in life. Scientists used to think factors like relationships and social participation could have short-term impacts on happiness, but that happiness would eventually resettle to its set-point.

It’s good news if that’s not true because it means there’s a lot we can do to make our lives happier.

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