Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

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Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby cooran » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:49 am

Hello all,

I found this article of interest:

Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

The study finds people who prioritise altruistic goals over material success are more satisfied.

Behavioural scientists have ruled out the theory that happiness is linked solely to genetics, in a study hailed as a breakthrough in psychological research.
The results of a 25-year study on 60,000 Germans show long-term happiness is determined by lifestyle decisions including choice of partner, employment and religion.
Study leader and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Bruce Headey, says the study turns the long-term notion of happiness being linked to personality on its head.

"Happiness isn't just a matter of heredity, it isn't just in the genes," he said. "Genes might be about 50 per cent of the story but the rest depends on lifestyle choices - choices relating to your partner and also relating to your work life."

The study appears in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and is based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel.
It analyses responses from a national representative sample of people aged 16 and over who answered questions every year from 1984 to 2008.

On relationships, the findings reveal that individuals with neurotic partners are significantly less happy than those with more emotionally stable partners.
"People who select or happen to be selected by partners with relatively benign personalities, with low levels of neuroticism, and who are reasonably extroverted and outgoing, they tend to be happier than average, and happier than they would just on the basis of their own personality traits," Professor Headey said.

The study finds people who prioritise altruistic and family goals over career and material success are more satisfied with life.

It shows people who work much more or less than they want are significantly less satisfied with life than those who come close to making their preferred trade-off between work and leisure.

"Other things that matter are social activities, getting involved in social and community things with friends in an active kind of way," Professor Headey said.
He says a link between religion and happiness is also evident.
"Religion seems to work for people - people who regularly attended church or mosque were a bit happier on average than people who were non-religious or non-attenders," he said.
"So having some kind of belief system that gives you a sense of meaning or purpose is important for happiness."

Professor Headey says the findings are the first of their kind on such a large scale.
"In terms of what we research in terms of this empirical work on the determinants of life's satisfaction it is I think something of a breakthrough," he said.
"People want to be happy, they want to know what they can do to make a difference and this gives some indication of the kinds of choices that matter.
"So we don't have to be stuck with the idea that happiness is set, like disease or height or genes."

He says although the study was based on Germans, the findings can also be applied in Australia.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 029955.htm

with metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:53 am

An interesting article, thanks Chris!
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby lojong1 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:48 am

"Genes might be about 50 per cent of the story but the rest depends on lifestyle choices - choices relating to your partner and also relating to your work life."

I do see the positively interesting correlations between happiness and lifestyle choices.
I do not see any evidence that even remotely supports the conclusion that these lifestyle choices are not entirely determined by genes.
As far as I can tell, no genetic information whatsoever was even considered in the selection of participants or in examining their responses. The study does debunk scientifickle set-point extremism by showing that people's attitudes can change dramatically and remain in their altered state for many years, even if we don't know why :roll: . However, there is no evidence to show that this is not due to the individual's genes, or an interaction between the gene's of different people.
Someone give me a good punchline: What's the difference between a gene and a sankhara? Genes and DNA?
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:56 am

I think lojong, as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail.
Unfortunately there is a tendency among many journalists to selectively edit the findings of scientific studies for maximum sensationalism and for the perceived interests of the newspaper audience.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby Sobeh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:17 pm

On this note, a TED lecture by Dan Gilbert:

here

"Dan Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes -- and fool everyone's eyes in the same way -- Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss."
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:26 pm

lojong1 wrote:Someone give me a good punchline: What's the difference between a gene and a sankhara?


2 lbs. of dukkha ?
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:47 pm

Sobeh wrote:On this note, a TED lecture by Dan Gilbert:

here

"Dan Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes -- and fool everyone's eyes in the same way -- Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss."

One of the benefits of the path we're on (speaking as a householder here!) is the systematic eradication of confusion and illusion about what truly makes us happy, enabling us to make good choices about our daily lives.
:namaste:
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Re: Happiness is chosen, not determined: research

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:21 pm

Well said, Kim!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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