Until recent times, it has been assumed that the reason why we behave the way we do, is due to our inherited genetic programming modified by our environment, over generations –in other words – evolution. However, it has recently been discovered that we are not prisoners of our genes in our lifetime; rather, we can modify our behavior with our beliefs and perceptions by changing our genetic behavior.
Conventional biology has long taught that that our genes were like a blueprint of how to build a human, and each had a protein to do the work of bioconstruction. But the recent Human Genome Project upset that theory by discovering that there were actually about 5 times as many proteins as genes. This finding overturned conventional biology and opened the door to the discovery of the mechanism of epigenetics, so named because it is “over our genes”
The epigenetic mechanism influences our behavior and traits by environmental signals without affecting the sequence of the genes in our DNA. For example, cigarette smoke can cause a chemical reaction which enters the blood stream and modifies proteins to cause disease. Another common example is that of an unhealthy diet causing epigenetic processes which damage cells.
Examples of signals that effect behavior include life experiences, such as childhood trauma, which can affect lifetime behavior, or the compulsive ‘voice in our head’ which incites the emotions of worry and fear. The epigenetic process initiated by our perceptions, and beliefs commonly result in the ‘placebo effect.’
By control of our perceptions, we can initiate epigenetic mechanisms which modify our proteins, and turn off their associated genes. This can modify our inherited genetic priority and turn off primitive survival genes reducing negative behavior, such as: competition and greed. Modifying our genetic priorities permits the expression of lower priority genes, such as our altruistic genes. As discussed in the book Happiness Genes, expressing our altruistic genes, such as compassion, ignite the neurotransmitters that are associated with the rewarding emotions of happiness.