While surfing for HAPPINESS on the Net I was pleasantly surprised to learn that extensive scientific research on the subject has been done, as a result some answers to basic question that had long perplexed me as to why some people are perennially happy in spite of adverse circumstances and others are for ever glum with long drawn faces, in spite of having all the materialistic luxuries that money can buy, and hard cash stuffed in Bank vaults and at homes.
Scientific studies have established that happiness is largely determined by our genes. The husband and wife team of Dr. Edward and Dr. Carol Diener both psychologists at University of Illinois have published papers suggesting that 50 % of our happiness is a direct result of our DNA, 10 % as a result of wealth and good health !!! and the remaining 40% as a result of our attitude, upbringing, lifestyle, family bonding, friends and groups, in short uncharted.
They have come to the conclusion after doing extensive brain mapping by positron emission tomography scans, and it has been proved that higher dopamine and left side brain frontal activities, induce happiness and sense of well being. Although no one is contending that DNA plays an important part, the difference of opinion in the scientific community is about the percentage.
I have long been observing people, and with this acquired knowledge now I understand why a particular person, in spite of having all the worldly goodies and wealth, always goes about with a glum look. There are many who I know, who are well off but smile rarely, and if they do so, we say ‘aaje china nu maiyyet thayu lage che’ ( as our city -Kolkata , has a very few Chinese left, it refers to the rare occasion of a Chinese death)
Where as there are others who lead a life of materialistic depravity, but are always contended and go about their daily life with a happy face and joy de verve. I have closely observed a few families, and rightly so DNA plays a vital part, as the streak of happiness and sense of well being and contentment, run in the family.
I have seen two generations of a particular family living a very frugal existence, but both father, now deceased and his sons lead a very contended and happy life, they life reminds me of Mr. Micgwber and family in the story ‘David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens if any one has cared to read it.
Scientific studies have proved that after any happy or tragic incident’s in one’s life has played it’s part, one tends to return to whatever happiness level is pre-set by virtue of their inherent DNA. The idea is similar to the set -point concept in weight control, a theory which says the brain seems to be wired to turn the body’s metabolism up or down to maintain pre-set weight.
Studies in several countries have established that money makes little difference in making one happy, except among the very poor. Dr. Edward Diener has compiled data showing that lottery winners are no happier a year after their good fortune that they were before, and several studies show that even people with spinal cord injuries tend to rebound in good spirit.
Now for me personally that is some good news, as I am long suffering from a very acute spinal problem, a degenerating disease which is making walking difficult. I should thank my DNA.
As stated earlier it has been conclusively proved that DNA plays a major role and wealth and good health have a minimal role in a life of contentment and happiness. The purpose of my writing this article is that a person whose DNA is not favorable, can try to lead a happy and contented life, by focusing his attention on the remaining contributory factors that constitute 40% uncharted factors.
It has been observed that one who has a strong social relationship, has a very satisfied life, and people who are satisfied and have positive attitude tend to be resistant to disease. The cold virus experiment on twins has proved this fact.
I have observed closely that those who were sullen and grimfaced, may be on account of their DNA after joining khidmat idaaras or social circle, go about their daily life with a happy and contended face. So even if your DNA is not favorable, you have a good chance to change your life perspective by working on the uncharted 40%
Yes even if your genes are going against you, there is every possibility to lead a very happy and contended life by taking a roller coaster ride on the khidmat bandwagon, with your expertise, time and money if you have a lot of it. It will be a win win situation, where you will gain a lot and so also the community.
Just take a plunge and see your life change. I have personally observed many, who have started living a very contended and happy life. Some of the other things are to learn to appreciate the small things in life, simple pleasures will keep you above the set-point, sprinkle your life with them, and in the long run, it will leave you more fulfilled and happier than some grand achievement, which tends to give you a ‘high’ for a limited period only.
Studies have shown that the body can grow old, but the mind can still remain young, and if you can manage to keep the mind ever young and enthusiastic, it will do a world of good on your health and well being. A popular saying goes thus – “People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old”
The following is an excerpt from the Book – Grow Younger Live longer – Deepak Chopra)
A youthful mind is playful and light hearted. The ego on the other hand, is serious.
It is solely concerned with power, control and approval. The ego is easily offended. Whatever arrogance or self importance people may project, if they are dominated by their ego, their underlying experience is one of fear – fear of losing control, fear of losing power, fear of losing approval. This fear leads to seriousness and the tendency to be easily offended.
So once we overcome ego, we embrace happiness. To end with a quote : ‘ I learned to look deep into the hearts of things, till the joy of wisdom fell like a dew upon my soul’