Scientists say that while it’s nearly impossible to modify genes to boost your contentment, according to a researcher who carried out groundbreaking work in the area, a human’s level of happiness is linked to their genetic makeup.
Meike Bartels described herself as a “scientist on a mission” in an interview with a TV channel at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Last year she published a paper that, for the first time, linked genetics to happiness and she’s the university research chair at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
DNA material sampling as well as measures of well-being was done by Bartels and a group of researchers who studied nearly 300,000 people in a first ever study. The study found links between genes and feelings when they looked at human genomes which contain the genetic material that determines an organism. The study also identified eleven locations on the human genome that may account for varying degrees of neurotic behaviour and claimed that there were three genetic variants for happiness, two that account for differences in symptoms of depression.
Two points on the human genome that Bartels said could be linked to human happiness were present when the study was published. The researchers have now found 20 areas on the genome linked to happiness as the sample size grew, Bartels revealed on Saturday.
However, external environmental factors can actually influence how those genes exhibit themselves, even though genes are linked to your levels of happiness, Bartels said. Uncovering of the extent of that dynamic is now the focus of the study.
“My main aim is to get a better hold of the environment. We think we know a lot about the environment but we do not. Most environmental factors are genetically influenced,” Bartels said during the TV interview.
Several questions about the ability to modify a person’s genetic make-up are being raised by knowing the location of specific genes. Why wouldn’t somebody in the people in the future make sure they are full of happiness genes if you know what to change to become a happier person.
Because it’ll be nearly impossible, Bartels said. It’ll be “too complex” to start altering that much DNA because there’ll be a “couple thousand” genetic variants linked to happiness, she added. But now she declared she’s up for the task.
“I am not afraid,” the professor said.
Meanwhile, the key to better health and education could be the learning about the genetics of happiness and how the environment affects it. These changes could therefore be further customized to meet the requirements and expectations of each individual person in the world.
“I think when we realize people are genetically different, we can start customizing more than we do now,” Bartels said during the TV interview.
(Adapted from CNBC)