When Helen Keller said “your happiness lies in you”, she wasn’t kidding.
A recent study by Michael Monkov from Bulgaria’s Varna University of Management and Michael Bond of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that the happiness index of a nation is largely dependent on the presence of a certain gene within that population.
Monkov and Bond used data from the World Values Survey between the year 2000 to 2014, and compared that with population genetic data maintained by Kenneth K. Kidd, who’s a population geneticist from Yale University.
They found that countries with a higher prevalence of a type of gene called A allele rated themselves as happiest. These include Ghana, Nigeria, and northern Latin American nations like Mexico and Colombia.
On the other hand, Arab nations like Iraq and Jordan and East Asian nations like Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Taiwan were found to have less of the A allele and, in turn, a lower happiness index.
So, why does A allele have such an effect on our mood? In layman terms, the gene helps prevent the degeneration of anandamide, a substance that enhances pleasure and reduces pain.
Of course, your genetic makeup isn’t the only factor - according to the research, our state of mind is also very much affected by ups and downs in politics and economics. But a nation’s ideology, disease patterns, and - surprise, surprise - personal wealth doesn’t affect our mood significantly, proving that you don’t have to be loaded to be happy.
Still, as much as happiness is directly related to our gene pool, we say it’s really up to you to find happiness in every day, no matter what your genes tell you.