Happiness All in the Genes, According to New Research

Article excerpt

BASIC levels of contentment are largely determined by a C[pounds sterling]happiness geneC[yen] in the brain, research suggests.

People tend to be more or less satisfied with their lives depending on what form of the gene they have.

The 5-HTT gene helps nerve cells recycle the signalling chemical serotonin, which is known to be linked to mood and depression.

It comes in C[pounds sterling]longC[yen] and C[pounds sterling]shortC[yen] versions. Individuals who inherit two copies of the C[pounds sterling]longC[yen] variant, one from each parent, tend to be more content than those with other combinations, the study showed.

The least happy were people born with two versions of the C[pounds sterling]shortC[yen] gene.

Behavioural economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, who led the research, said: C[pounds sterling]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.

C[pounds sterling]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 Co other genes and especially experience throughout the course of life will continue to explain the majority of variation in individual happiness.

C[pounds sterling]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. …