Happy genes

How much is our happiness affected by our genes? Are some people just born happier than others?

One of the largest ever studies aiming to help answer this question was published in 2015. It analysed genetic data from over 300,000 people and identified three specific genes associated with subjective levels of happiness. Two genes were also identified that seem to be directly linked to depressive symptoms.

Why does this matter? Well, it does confirm other empirical findings suggesting that there is not a level playing field with regards to happiness. Our genetics undoubtedly play a role in both mental wellness and mental illness. And it is a good reminder that our wellbeing is not entirely within our control.

But whilst we may not be able to choose our genes, researchers like University of California Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky point out that at least 40% of our happiness is due to the choices we make: “happiness, more than anything, is a state of mind, a way of perceiving and approaching ourselves and the world in which we reside.”

There are some factors affecting our happiness that we cannot control. And there are certainly many that we can.

Published by

David Bott

Hi, I'm David Bott, Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education in Australia.

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