Science Explains Why Some People Find It Hard To Be Happy!

Anxiety, depression and self-harm rates continue to rise worldwide. Are we doomed to be unhappy, despite advances in psychology?

He revealed  an article  influential publication in a review of psychology year in 2005, that 50% of people 's happiness be determined by their genes, and 10% depend on their circumstances and 40% on the "deliberate activity" (basically, whether you are positive or not).

This so-called "happiness pie" puts positive psychology followers in the driver's seat, allowing them to make a decision about their happiness path. (Although the unspoken message is that if you're unhappy, you're the reason.)

The "happiness pie" has been widely criticized for being based on assumptions about genes that have been discredited. For decades, behavioral genetics researchers have studied twins and found that between 40% and 50% of the variance in their happiness is explained by genetics, which is why the ratio appears in the "happiness pie."

Behavioral geneticists use a statistical technique to estimate genetic and environmental components based on people's family kinship, and then use twins in their studies.

In response to criticism of the 2005 paper, the authors themselves wrote a research paper in 2019 that offered a more nuanced approach to the influence of genes on happiness, which recognized the interactions between our genes and our environment.

Nature and upbringing

The researchers said that nature and nurture are not separate from each other. On the contrary, molecular genetics, the study of the structure and function of genes at the molecular level, shows that they continually influence each other.

Genes influence behavior that helps people choose their environment. For example, extraversion from parents to children helps children build their friendship groups.

Equally, the environment alters gene expression. For example, when mothers expected to experience starvation, their children's genes changed accordingly, resulting in chemical changes that suppressed growth factor production. This resulted in babies being born smaller than normal and with conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

It is pointed out that nature and nurture are interrelated and constantly influence each other. This is why two people who grew up in the same environment might respond to it differently, which means that the behavioral genetics assumption of an equal environment is no longer valid.

The researchers also explained that whether people can become happier depends on their "environmental sensitivity" - their ability to change. Some people are vulnerable to their environment and can therefore drastically change their thoughts, feelings, and behavior in response to both negative and positive events.

So when they attend a well-being workshop or read a positive psychology book, they may be moved by it and experience significantly greater change compared to others — and the change may last longer, too.

But no positive psychology intervention can work for all people because we are as unique as our DNA, and as such, we have a different capacity for well-being and its fluctuations throughout life.

Are we destined to be unhappy? Some people may struggle more than others to improve their well-being, and this struggle means that they will remain unhappy for longer. And in extreme cases, they may never feel high levels of happiness.

However, others who have greater genetic flexibility, meaning they are more sensitive to the environment and therefore have an increased capacity for change, may be able to enhance their well-being and perhaps even prosperity if they adopt a healthy lifestyle and choose to live and work in an environment that enhances their happiness and ability to thrive.

But genetics does not define who we are, even if it plays an important role in our well-being. What also matters are the choices we make about where we live, who we live with and how we live our lives, which affect our happiness and the happiness of future generations.

The report was prepared with the participation of Jolanta Burke, Senior Lecturer, Center for Positive Psychology and Health, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Source: Science Alert


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