"I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen."
Abd Er-Rahman III of Spain (960 C.E.)
The old cliche that you can't buy happiness may be true, but new findings show it looks like you can at least inherit it, according a team of British and Australian researchers.
A study of nearly 1,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins found genes control half the personality traits that make people happy while factors such as relationships, health and careers are responsible for the rest of our well-being.
"We found that around half the differences in happiness were genetic," said Tim Bates, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh who led the study reported in the journal Psychological Science. "It is really quite surprising."
The study confirms our common sense awareness that individuals who are sociable, active, stable, hardworking and conscientious tend to be happier.
The researchers asked the volunteers -- ranging in age from 25 to 75 -- a series of questions about their personality, how much they worried and how satisfied they were with their lives. Because identical twins share the same genes and fraternal twins do not, the researchers were able to identify common genes that result in certain personality traits and predispose people to happiness.
"What this study showed was that the identical twins in a family were very similar in personality and in well-being, and by contrast, the fraternal twins were only around half as similar," Bates said. "That strongly implicates genes."
The findings are an important piece of the puzzle for researchers trying to better understand depression and what makes different people happy or unhappy, Bates said. Personality traits of being outgoing, calm and reliable provide a resource, we called it 'affective reserve,' that drives future happiness" Bates said.
People with positive inherited personality traits may, in effect, also have a reserve of happiness to draw on in stressful times, he said.
Posted by Casey Kazan.