Effect of happiness on genes

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Dhammabodhi
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Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Dhammabodhi » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:13 pm

Courtesy: Times of India

Happiness can affect your genes in a healthy or unhealthy way depending on what causes you to feel pleasure , a first-of-its-kind study has found.

US researchers found that human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal and respond in ways that can help or hinder physical health. They found that different types of happiness have surprisingly different effects on the human genome. People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life — showed very favourable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells.

They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

However, people who had relatively high levels of hedonic well-being — the type of happiness that comes from consummatory self-gratification — actually showed just the opposite . They had an adverse expression profile involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression .

Steven Cole, a University of California, Los Angeles professor of medicine, and his colleagues , including first author Barbara L Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, have been examining how the human genome responds to stress, misery, fear and all kinds of negative psychology.
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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daverupa
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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:31 pm

And here is the paper.

Abstract

...The finding that hedonic and eudaimonic well-being engage distinct gene regulatory programs despite their similar effects on total well-being and depressive symptoms implies that the human genome may be more sensitive to qualitative variations in well-being than are our conscious affective experiences.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Mkoll » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:40 pm

It seems that the more we learn about genes, the more we seen how many of them are "plastic" in the sense that they can be switched on and off by virtue of how one lives life.

:anjali:

James
Peace,
James

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:13 am

In another thread it was suggested that the genetic mechanism might explain some things about rebirth and now here is a thread that might be suggesting that the genetic mechanism might explain some things about the fruition of kamma...... ...... hmmmmmmmmmm............I guess.......I don't know for sure..........
chownah

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby SarathW » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:30 am

chownah wrote:In another thread it was suggested that the genetic mechanism might explain some things about rebirth and now here is a thread that might be suggesting that the genetic mechanism might explain some things about the fruition of kamma...... ...... hmmmmmmmmmm............I guess.......I don't know for sure..........
chownah


Dependent origination perhaps!
:)

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:52 am

Mkoll wrote:It seems that the more we learn about genes, the more we seen how many of them are "plastic" in the sense that they can be switched on and off by virtue of how one lives life.

:anjali:

James

Quite separately from that but over the same time-frame, we have been learning that the brain is far more flexible than we used to think it was. The old understanding (say 40 years ago) was that the brain gradually became hard-wired as it developed between babyhood and early adulthood and couldn't change later, no matter how hard anyone tried. Now we know that's not so. There's a simple intro here - http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html

Knowing that can give us greater confidence in our ability to learn and grow in later life.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:56 am

And here's the third leg of the tripod: how chronic stress affects health - http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2013/09/05/3841753.htm

:coffee:
Kim

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby seeker242 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:28 am

"The All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"The ear is aflame. Sounds are aflame...

"The nose is aflame. Aromas are aflame...

"The tongue is aflame. Flavors are aflame...

"The body is aflame. Tactile sensations are aflame...

"The intellect is aflame. Ideas are aflame. Consciousness at the intellect is aflame. Contact at the intellect is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I say, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs."


Modern day science finding that what the Buddha said over 2,000 years ago to be true...again! :smile:

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Mkoll » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:19 pm

Thank you for the article, Kim. I found these passages especially striking.

Synaptic pruning eliminates weaker synaptic contacts while stronger connections are kept and strengthened. Experience determines which connections will be strengthened and which will be pruned; connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved. Neurons must have a purpose to survive. Without a purpose, neurons die through a process called apoptosis in which neurons that do not receive or transmit information become damaged and die. Ineffective or weak connections are "pruned" in much the same way a gardener would prune a tree or bush, giving the plant the desired shape. It is plasticity that enables the process of developing and pruning connections, allowing the brain to adapt itself to its environment.


Initially, newly learned data are "stored" in short-term memory, which is a temporary ability to recall a few pieces of information. Some evidence supports the concept that short-term memory depends upon electrical and chemical events in the brain as opposed to structural changes such as the formation of new synapses. One theory of short-term memory states that memories may be caused by "reverberating" neuronal circuits -- that is, an incoming nerve impulse stimulates the first neuron which stimulates the second, and so on, with branches from the second neuron synapsing with the first. After a period of time, information may be moved into a more permanent type of memory, long-term memory, which is the result of anatomical or biochemical changes that occur in the brain (Tortora and Grabowski, 1996).


That is the scientific explanation of how right effort (non-arising/abandoning of unwholesome states and arising/maintenance of wholesome states) literally changes one's brain at the physical level. The Buddha's teaching is about purifying one's mentality and science is now discovering physical evidence of this, albeit indirectly. The Dhamma will always remain "against the stream" in this world.

Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.09.budd.html

:anjali:

James
Peace,
James

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:21 pm

A relevant passage from DN21:

The Buddha wrote:Joy is of two sorts, I tell you, deva-king: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? When one knows of a feeling of joy, 'As I pursue this joy, unskillful mental qualities increase, and skillful mental qualities decline,' that sort of joy is not to be pursued. When one knows of a feeling of joy, 'As I pursue this joy, unskillful mental qualities decline, and skillful mental qualities increase,' that sort of joy is to be pursued. And this sort of joy may be accompanied by directed thought & evaluation or free of directed thought & evaluation. Of the two, the latter is the more refined. 'Joy is of two sorts, I tell you, deva-king: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Mkoll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:39 am

Dhammabodhi wrote:A relevant passage from DN21:

The Buddha wrote:Joy is of two sorts, I tell you, deva-king: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? When one knows of a feeling of joy, 'As I pursue this joy, unskillful mental qualities increase, and skillful mental qualities decline,' that sort of joy is not to be pursued. When one knows of a feeling of joy, 'As I pursue this joy, unskillful mental qualities decline, and skillful mental qualities increase,' that sort of joy is to be pursued. And this sort of joy may be accompanied by directed thought & evaluation or free of directed thought & evaluation. Of the two, the latter is the more refined. 'Joy is of two sorts, I tell you, deva-king: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.


Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu! Thank you for that.

And here is another translation from Maurice Walshe's The Long Discourses of the Buddha

Ruler of the Gods, I declare that there are two kinds of happiness: the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applies to unhappiness and equanimity. Why have I declared this in regard to happiness? This is how I understood happiness: When I observed that in the pursuit of such happiness, unwholesome factors increased and wholesome factors decreased, then that happiness was to be avoided. And when I observed that in the pursuit of such happiness unwholesome factors decreased and wholesome ones increased, then that happiness was to be sought after. Now, of such happiness as is accompanied by thinking and pondering, and of that which is not so accompanied, the latter is more excellent. The same applies to unhappiness, and to equanimity.


The notes and using the Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka to translate the Pali point out that "happiness" (somanassa) is equivalent to "mentally agreeable feeling" (cetasika sukha vedana) and belongs to the feeling aggregate. Nyanatiloka also points out that:

"The mind of the happy one has concentration as its fruit and reward" (A.X,1). "In him who is filled with happiness, right concentration has found a foundation" (A.X,3).
Peace,
James

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:13 am

Thanks Mkoll, for the bringing out the nuanced meaning of joy/happiness here! :thanks:
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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Re: Effect of happiness on genes

Postby Kusala » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:07 am

seeker242 wrote:
"The All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"The ear is aflame. Sounds are aflame...

"The nose is aflame. Aromas are aflame...

"The tongue is aflame. Flavors are aflame...

"The body is aflame. Tactile sensations are aflame...

"The intellect is aflame. Ideas are aflame. Consciousness at the intellect is aflame. Contact at the intellect is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I say, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs."


Modern day science finding that what the Buddha said over 2,000 years ago to be true...again! :smile:


"To read a little Buddhism is to realize that the Buddhists knew, two thousand five hundred years ago, far more about our modern problems of psychology than they have yet been given credit for. They studied these problems long ago and found their answers too." - Dr. Graham Howe
Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.


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