Well, after signing an online petition against the annual slaughter of Canadian baby harp seals (hundreds of thousands will be clubbed to death this year so that thoughtless silly people can wear their fur…) and writing, yesterday, about fear and cancer diagnoses, I thought it was time to open a…happier chapter. First though, I would like to urge you to go on the PETA website and sign that baby seal petition. It will take only a few seconds and might help STOP this appallingly cruel massacre: http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/seal_hunt07
Okay, now for the "happy" chapter. Why are some people happier than others? Well, it seems that at least 50% of our happiness has genetic roots. A recently published University of Edinburgh study looked at survey data pertaining to 973 pairs of adult twins. Identical twins had more similarities than the non-identical twins (gee, that’s a surprise! ), even in terms of how happy they were.
According to the March 6 Science Daily article (see: http://tinyurl.com/2dzg8u), “Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh working with researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that happiness is partly determined by personality traits and that both personality and happiness are largely hereditary.” Personality and happiness share some of the same genes. Interesting.
The study goes on: “Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier. They suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen […]"
Intriguing! But what if you are sociable BUT worry a lot? Hmmm. Well, anyway, another fascinating titbit is that people who are predisposed to happiness are apparently able to count on an extra "supply" of happiness when the going gets tough. So they deal with problems and whatnot better than those who lack the "happy" gene. Let’s keep in mind, of course, that there is still a 50% component that is subject to external factors such as health, relationships, jobs.
Since reading this article, I have been pondering about the things, even little things, that make me smile in life. There are many. If I were to participate in a happiness survey right now, I am quite sure my result would show that I am quite if not very happy. I have a happy marriage and a good sense of humour, I live in a wonderful place, I really like my teaching job (mainly thanks to my funny students), I have a great supportive family, good friends, and let’s not forget my uproarious and loving cats. Last but not least, Stefano and I are going to go to the UK in late April to see puffins in their natural habitat and visit Northumberland for 10 days. My dream vacation! How could I not be happy?
Oh, ok, almost forgot: I have an incurable cancer. Aaah, just a minor glitch!