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Genetics Plays Role In Our Hunt For Happiness

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Gretchen Rubin (Source: CBS)

Gretchen Rubin (Source: CBS)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Genetics can determine more than just the way you look.

Recent research indicates that they also play a part in how happy an individual is and how happy they could be.

These days, it seems that everywhere you turn, there are self-help books and Web sites on how to find happiness. But it could be that unending quest for happiness that is sabotaging our success.

“I wake up happy,” said Lorraine Robertson.

Robertson is lucky. Being happy is easier for some people than others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 10 American adults reports being clinically depressed. Anti-depressant use has skyrocketed 400 percent since 1994. There is also an explosion of books, Web sites and even apps helping people be happy.

So why is it so hard?

“About 50 percent of happiness is genetically determined, so some people are born Tiggers and some people are born Eeyores,” said Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.

But Rubin said your genetics are not all that indicate your disposition. In her research, she discovered your connection to others plays a major role too.

People who have long-term intimate relationships where they can confide, and where they feel like they belong, also tend to be happier, Rubin said.

“It’s not life changes like a new house or a fancy car that make the most impact, but sometimes little things like the smell of an orange that give the biggest happiness boost,” said Rubin. “Over and over, people tell me something like cleaning out a medicine cabinet gives them a huge jolt of good cheer and energy.”

Experts said simple pleasures can go a long way, while working too hard at being happy could make you miserable.

“The more obsessed we are with trying to become happy, the more energy we put towards a sort of happiness as the end goal, the less happy we are and actually the greater risk we are for feeling unhappy and depressed,” said Dr. Jane Gruber.

She pointed to studies that indicate the more you accept who, and how, you are, the happier you are likely to become.

“By accepting our feelings, we’re actually less likely to judge ourselves and to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Gruber said.

Rubin said her findings confirm that conclusion. Self-knowledge is pivotal to a positive perspective.

“It’s really easy to be distracted by the way we think we ought to be, or the way we wish we were, or the way other people think we ought to be, and to lose track of what’s really true for us,” Rubin said.

Robertson said she is happiest spending time with her family, going for a run, or listening to music.

“I think sometimes people are afraid to be happy or let go,” she said.

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