Happiness gene is revealed
Scientists have found that our happiness is down to not only how well our lives are going, but also a ‘happiness gene’.
It is thought that the 5-HTT gene releases ‘happy’ chemicals into the brain as well as helping the nerves to control a chemical called serotonin which has been linked to depression and moods.
They found that people who had two ‘long’ versions of the gene were the happiest, while the unhappiest were those with two ‘short’ versions of the gene.
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Experts believe that one strand of the gene is passed down to us from each parent, and could explain why some people seem naturally happier than others.
The study was carried out by a team of researchers at the London School of Economics, who analysed the genes of 2500 Americans.
The volunteers had their genetic make-up monitored and were asked ‘how satisfied are you with your life?’
Jan-Emmanuelo Neve conducted the research, and said: “It has long been suggested that this gene plays a role in mental health, but this study is the first to show it is instrumental in shaping individual happiness levels.”
“The results suggest a strong link between happiness and this functional variant of the 5-HTT gene.”
He added: “This finding helps to explain why some people tend to be naturally happier than others, and that's in no small part due to our individual genetic make-up.”
It is possible that a clearer understanding of happiness genes would allow potential parents to create a child that would be more satisfied with life.
However, happiness levels cannot be solely attributed to our genes. Studies in twins have shown that genetics account for approximately a third to 50 percent of the variation of someone’s happiness.
The research has been published in the Journal of Human Genetics.
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