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 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 set point 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 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.
Examples of the heritability of other common behaviors can be found in the book “Behavioral Genes, why we do what we do and how to change”, described on this site .
Behaviors, thoughts and consequently well-being are formed by genetics and epigenetics interacting with each other. Genes are not destiny and their exprsion can be changed by epigenetic therapies, such as meditation, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and brain management.
For example, the epigenetic act of compassion or doing a good deed, will result in a positive happy emotion, which will occur on every instance of this act as well as cross culturally. Indicating that it is genetic and expressed by the epigenetic act of compassion. This phenomena is explained in detail in the book ”Happinessgenes” on this site.
Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation
Epigenetic therapies, such as; mindfulness meditation are used to treat stress, anxiety, depression and pain. Such programs have been standardized for decades in hospitals, schools, retirement homes, military groups, etc. the most well-known program is called MBSR for mindfulness-based stress relief.
The simple practices of meditation can be practiced daily practically anywhere and provide relief from the worries and fears caused by the almost constant stream of random thoughts in our mind. The almost effortless act of focusing on some point such as, breath counting, works on the fact that our brain can only think of one thing at a time, which blocks undesirable random thoughts. This technique of managing your mind is very effective and can rapidly improve well-being. Numerous examples of types of meditation and mindfulness can be found on this site in various blogs as well as the epigenetic therapies in all the books.
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