'Happiness is in the genes'

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Washington, Mar 5 (UNI) Don't worry, be happy is an age old advice, but going by a recent study it seems being merry is not always under our control -- Happiness has its roots in the genes as well.

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, happiness in life is as much down to having the right genetic mix as it is to personal circumstances.

''Together with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a core human desire. Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality,'' lead researcher Dr Alexander Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh said.

Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier. The researchers suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen.

They used personality and happiness data on more than 900 twin pairs. The team identified evidence for common genes which result in certain personality traits and predispose people to happiness.

The findings suggest that those lucky enough to have the right inherited personality mix have an 'affective reserve' of happiness which can be called upon in stressful times or in times of recovery.

The researchers say that although happiness has its roots in our genes, around 50 per cent of the differences between people in their life happiness is still down to external factors such as relationships, health and careers.


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