Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In Pursuit Of A Happiness Gene

Date:
July 2, 2009
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
The pursuit of happiness characterizes the human condition. But for those suffering from stress, money trouble or chronic illness, a positive outlook on life can be difficult to find. Now, a researcher says we should look to our genes.

Twin boys. Researchers are studying identical twins in the hopes of finding a biological door to happiness.
Credit: iStockphoto/Rosemarie Gearhart

The pursuit of happiness characterizes the human condition. But for those suffering from stress, money trouble or chronic illness, a positive outlook on life can be difficult to find. Now, a Tel Aviv University researcher says we should look to our genes.

Related Articles


Prof. Yoram Barak of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine is engaged in the "attempt to find the happiness gene, the genetic component of happiness," which may be 50% responsible for an optimistic outlook. The research is a collaboration between Tel Aviv University and its affiliated research hospital, the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Hashomer, which is the largest hospital in Israel.

Initial research findings have made Prof. Barak optimistic about their ability to succeed. "If something is genetic, it should have a large concordance among twins," he says. "And the twin studies we are looking at show that 50% of happiness is genetically determined." Prof. Barak is now working with Prof. Anat Achiron of the Sheba Medical Center to identify the specific genes that are associated with happiness.

Dr. Barak's current findings in the hunt for the happiness gene were presented at The World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Montreal, Canada in 2008, and most recently detailed in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, April 2009.

Positive psychology

We may be a long way off from being able to genetically engineer happiness, Prof. Barak says, but we can start by thinking positively. Much of his work is based on positive psychology, which is the "fastest and largest growing area of psychology in the United States — and in the world," he says.

For the 50% of happiness that is not genetic, Prof. Barak is working on a program of positive psychology workshops, with exercises he recently tested in a one-day workshop for 120 participants at the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Israel. Early results indicate that the workshops improved the happiness level of participants by as much as 30%.

This work is dedicated to finding "practical and intervention oriented research and the application of psychology into medicine," says Prof. Barak. His research into the physical affects of mental state on patients with neurological diseases is an attempt to bridge the gap between psychology and clinical medicine.

Feeling good in mind and body

Prof. Barak says that the psychological benefits of the program were accompanied by physical benefits as well. "We were able to raise levels of happiness in these patients so they were just about equal to those of healthy subjects," he says. "If we can apply positive psychology, we can better their adherence to their treatment regime. And we have been able to show that there is a stabilization of the neurological disability as well."

For healthy individuals, Prof. Barak says that his happiness exercises can enrich their lives, too. Meanwhile, his search for the happiness gene goes on.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "In Pursuit Of A Happiness Gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623120844.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2009, July 2). In Pursuit Of A Happiness Gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623120844.htm
Tel Aviv University. "In Pursuit Of A Happiness Gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623120844.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins