Increase Your Happiness
The purpose of this site is to bring understanding to the nature of happiness and means for its improvement. Recent large scale studies claim to have identified happiness genes. Other studies in biological research show that there is a genetic component to happiness called heritability, which is determined to constitute about 30%-50% of happiness.
However, while happiness is partially inherited, it also has what is referred to as a set point. Meaning that while happiness may rise with some pleasant event, such as a pay raise, a new acquisition, a new friend etc. it also returns back to its previous level shortly after the event. This trait has long been known in psychology. This of course is very obvious as personal experience shows that you can’t continuously increasing your happiness by acquisitions. The overriding law of nature being that what goes up must come down.
While the set point theory is generally accepted by psychologist and biologist, there is little evidence of how to increase the set point of genetic happiness as well as means to affect the non genetic component of happiness.
Increasing the Happiness by Epigenetics
Epigenetics refers to environmental drivers that can effect behaviors and thinking without influencing the DNA sequence. Epigenetic drivers are extensive and include such as: diet, life experiences, toxins, placebos, beliefs, perceptions, medicines, mindfulness meditation, and lifestyles. They function by changing genetic expression, and modifying proteins. For example, the belief that a pill recommended by your doctor will relieve pain, will usually do so, for at least a while, even if the pill is a sham. In fact most complementary and alternative forms of medicine are considered as placebos by the National Institutes of Health. Another well-known example is that the type of treatment received when you’re young will effect your personality throughout your life.
The basic reality is that we are motivated by the interaction of our genes and our environmental drivers. This understanding gives power to more personal improvement and happiness. The books on this site will give direction and therapies to make positive emotional and thinking changes.
What is happiness?
While every one wants to be happy, what does it mean? This question has been debated throughout history, rendering it an umbrella term for that specific definition.
Much like the word love, it means different things to different people. While generally agreed that it is a positive emotional experience, it is clear that it is not continuously sustainable. In fact if happiness were constant, we couldn’t tell happiness from unhappiness.
On numerous polls, the general response to-are you happy? the general answer was one of being satisfied and content with their lives, in other words, a feeling of well-being. For the books on the site, happiness is defined as a general feeling of satisfaction or well-being, punctuated by periodic feelings of joy or elation. In other words,” subjective well-being”
Behaviors, thoughts and consequently subjective well-being are formed by genetics and epigenetics interacting with each other. Genes are not destiny and their exprsion can be changed by epigenetic drivers and therapies, such as; beliefs, perceptions, meditation, mindfulness, critical thinking, etc.
For example, the epigenetic act of compassion or doing a good deed, will result in a positive emotions, which will occur on every instance of this act as well as cross culturally. This phenomena is explained in detail in the book ”Happiness genes” on this site.
One of the most important epigenetic modifications was to change from our normal intuitive thinking, which is essentially a gut reaction, in response to perceived threats. This type of thinking was central to our ancestors on the hazardous savannas of Africa. Quick reactions of “flight or fight syndrome” could have been a lifesaver. However as the environment changed our behavior was modified from reacting to perceived threats, which caused constant worry and fear, preventing any sense of well-being. Critical thinking is based on facts rather than “gut reactions” which reduces perceived threats and bases behavior on factual threats. This epigenetic process is explained below in a brief timeline history of behavioral evolution from 30,000 years ago.
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