A Genetic Guide To Happiness
The researchers then drew the subjects’ blood, and found that the genes of the volunteers whose lives contained lots of pleasure but little meaning were priming cells to express high levels of inflammation—which is linked to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease— and a weaker anti-viral response to infections. “Their daily activities provide short-term happiness yet result in negative physical consequences long-term,” says psycho-physiologist Barbara Fredrickson.
People who emphasize service to others and a connection to community, on the other hand, showed a pattern of gene expression linked to less inflammation and stronger immunity. There are two distinct kinds of happiness, says study co-author Steven Cole, and “our genes can tell the difference.”