Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
May 21,   2010
The Happiness Genes

 

Are You Happy?*

An Excerpt from

Happiness Genes**

by

James D. Baird & Laurie Nadel

 

The desire for happiness drives human beings regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Participants in countless surveys usually explain it as their degree of satisfaction or pleasure. But happiness has many meanings. Later in this book, we will define the true meaning of natural happiness, for everyone, and how you can accept your gift of happiness. For now, we invite you to examine your meaning through a written exercise.

 

What Is Happiness? A Preliminary Exercise

  •          Can you describe how it makes you feel?

  •          Do you feel it in your physical body and/or brain?

  •          What sorts of activities, beliefs, places, foods, colors, sounds, or people contribute to or reduce your happiness?

  •          How do you feel when you do a good deed or an act of compassion?

  •          How does climate or the time of day or night influence your being happy -- or not?

  •          Does your happiness depend on others, or certain circumstances?

  •          What is the difference between your feeling of happiness and your pleasures?

 

The United States Constitution guarantees each individual the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We have a multi-billion-dollar industry dedicated to persuading you that the secret to happiness lies in money, power, success, or buying the latest gadget, car, or body-enhancement product.

Ask anyone who bought an SUV because he fell in love with a commercial showing it on a mountaintop whether acquiring this vehicle made him or her happy. Perhaps it did briefly...until gas prices rose, making it twice as expensive to fill the tank. Or perhaps until he tried to park the car on a city street or in your average suburban driveway. Similar to millions of his fellow consumers, the SUV owner probably wishes he had turned off the TV instead of sitting glued to the seductive commercials.

The notions of happiness that are fed to us through the media are just that: seductive. They lure us in with false promises that we will be happy when we own a sports car or an iPhone, or have bigger breasts...and when those purchases don't work, the advertising industry flashes new stuff onscreen, urging us to spend more money in the hope that we can purchase happiness.

More than 2,000 years ago, bi (Before Internet) and btv (before Television), Gautama Buddha said that "wanting is the source of human suffering." We will never know if he would have succumbed to a 6-cylinder 8-passenger conveyance with a built-in GPS navigation system, or if his long, slender fingers would crave the touch-screen experience of an iPhone, but based on the Buddha's teachings, we can speculate that he probably would have turned off the TV as the commercials started.

This leads us to a chicken-egg question: If wanting is the source of human suffering, are we doomed to suffer by wanting happiness?

And, if you don't want happiness, what are the alternatives?

 

The Four Assumptions of Western Civilization

The second half of this sentence could be considered heretical to the pursuers of materialism... but evidence suggests that the pursuit of happiness according to the following Four Assumptions invariably leads to disappointment. They are:

  • 1.      MORE is better.

  • 2.      NEW is better.

  • 3.      BIGGER is better.

  • 4.      FASTER is better.

When have you bought in to one or more of these assumptions expecting it would bring you happiness? What happened? Would you make the same choice today?

 

Can You Buy True Happiness?

You need only to scan photographs from all over the world to notice that all humans smile in similar ways. Our mouths turn up, our cheeks puff out slightly, and our eyes glisten. Travel to the Himalayas or the Moroccan desert, and, without knowing a word of the local lingo, you will be able to see, hear, and sense a happy human being.

Without knowing a word of the language, you can communicate to someone whom you have never met before by smiling, laughing, and nodding. Perhaps both of you can point to something funny or lovely on the side of the road. Or you can share delight at seeing something unexpected, such as a horse running down the main street at breakfast time, or a child playing with her younger sister in a field of flowers. Perhaps you were lost and a student who wanted to practice his English walked you to your destination.

In situations such as these, you don't pursue happiness, because it finds you.

 

When Happiness Finds You: An Exercise

  •          Think of a time when happiness found you.

  • o        Where were you?

  • o        What were you doing?

  • o        Were you looking for happiness at the time?

 

The Search for Happiness Is Universal

Thousands of years ago, the world's wisest teachers gave humanity insight and guidelines for living a happy life. Hieroglyphics in the pharaoh's tombs depict celebrations. The ancient Greeks sought happiness through theater that enraptured the heart with eloquent poetry. In Roman times too, poets such as Virgil sought to lift the reader's spirit to a level where he was free from care. The Druids of the British Isles and indigenous peoples in the Western hemisphere believed the source of happiness came through the spiritual intelligence of nature. But until modern genetics, the nature of happiness remained undiscovered.

 

The first key to happiness is understanding that it is inherent in human nature. Each of us can experience it anywhere on the planet, irrespective of culture, language, gender, or race.

Although each human being has a unique way of perceiving emotions and moods, the universal nature of happiness transcends culture, geography, religion, and even chronological time. Who does not feel happy when she performs an act of compassion, such as helping a crippled person across a busy street? An altruistic act fills us with an organic sense of pleasure. 

 

Two Types of Happiness

For thousands of years, the world's wisest teachers have provided insight, tools, and guidance to help students discover happiness. Therefore, it may seem presumptuous to suggest that we in the 21st century need guidance to be able to experience happiness.

The emerging field of positive psychology taught at major universities identifies key components of what we term common happiness: pleasures, meaning, and self-improvement. These are subjectively verifiable variables. Although personal experience can validate what is true for an individual, one defect of this model is that the components of happiness are transient and subject to change as each person's life goes through changes. Another, more significant defect is that the components are responsive to external circumstances.

But microbiologists have discovered that there is a biological basis to human happiness, a second type of happiness that is genetic in nature. It is not dependent on external circumstances, but rather is a genetic characteristic. We term this type of happiness natural happiness.

 

Here are some fundamental differences between extrinsic (common) happiness and intrinsic (natural happiness).

 

Extrinsic/Common Happiness                              Intrinsic/Natural Happiness

Pleasure; social in origin                                   Biological and spiritual in origin

Nurture                                                         Nature

External frame of reference                               Internal frame of reference

External/material world                                     Spiritual/inner world

Happiness comes from the                          

Action-driven                                                 Faith and insight

Motivated by sense of lack                               Motivated by altruistic ethics

"Having"                                                        "Being"

Culturally conditioned                                       Universal

Behavioral                                                      Genetic/biological

Constitution guarantees                                

Pursuit of happiness

Temporal                                                       Eternal/Timeless

Ordinary                                                        Extra-ordinary (also non-ordinary)

Material                                                         Spiritual

Conditioned (by expectations)                           Inherent

 

 

Extrinsic (common) happiness can be pursued by seeking a better job, a bigger home, a faster car, and/or a new relationship. But ultimately, as conditions change, extrinsic happiness leaves us empty and wanting.

Intrinsic happiness occurs naturally. Humans have genes that can be activated by our thoughts, emotional patterns, and behaviors. Mindfulness, meditation, and altruistic actions unlock the DNA code that produces natural happiness.

 

The Second Key: You Are Biologically Wired for Happiness

For the past 20 years, a mere 3 percent of the mainstream scientific community has devoted itself to the study of consciousness and spirituality. Breakthroughs in physics and biology have been reported and discussed in such books as The Genie in Your Genes by Dawson Church, PhD; The Tao of Physics by Gary Zukav, PhD; The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, PhD; The Way of the Explorer by Dr. Edgar Mitchell; and Sixth Sense: Unlocking Your Ultimate Mind Power by Laurie Nadel, PhD with Judy Haims and Robert Stempson.

Dr. Willis Harman, past president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (www.ions.org) called for a new science of consciousness that would establish a scientific model to explain spirituality, intuition, and prayer.

In one of his last interviews before his death in 1994, Nobel scientist Dr. Roger Sperry expressed his belief in a higher intelligence that created and maintained the life-support systems of every human being. One assumption of Western science holds that anything that is real can be reduced to matter in the form of molecules and atomic particles; Dr. Sperry believed that molecules do not make life-sustaining decisions -- consciousness does. "The molecules of an airplane cannot make it fly," he said, comparing the circuitry to what he called directive intelligence within each human being.

 

A Blueprint for Happiness

Natural happiness is your biological birthright. It is encoded in your DNA .

Specific genes, such as the DRD4 gene and the VMAT2 gene, are part of the gene pool that provides a blueprint for the intrinsic states of happiness. Further, the existence of DNA strands that are expressed through mindfulness, prayer, and altruistic action provides evidence of a biological basis for spirituality.

It is a common myth that your genes are your destiny, by exerting control over your behavior -- numerous experiments and studies in the field of behavioral genetics show that interaction with environment forms the basis of behavior; your DNA responds to signals from your environment. These signals include beliefs and emotional patterns that "unlock" the positive potential within your DNA. Thus, the New Biology connects the dots among theories of consciousness, cellular communication, and psychology.

 

Your Happiness Furthers Human Evolution

You and I are standing on a precipice. At this very moment, we are the first species in the history of evolution that has developed intelligence to a level at which it has the means of making itself extinct. As Bruce Lipton has observed in the Foreword, we must begin to participate consciously in the process of evolution. This is a revolutionary idea, but one that is necessary to humanity's survival as a species. We need to evolve together into an empathic community that recognizes that our choices as individuals affect the Whole.

You can begin right now.

By directing your thoughts and emotions to the conscious expression of altruism, mindfulness, and self-transcendence, you create changes in the genetic expression in your
DNA. Studies in the new science of epigenetics show that these modifications are saved in the genetic blueprint and transmitted to the next generation of cells!

This means that your happiness is more than a self-directed search for personal joy. As you read further and learn how new patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior can make you a happier individual, you are also helping humanity to evolve in a peaceful way.

The best part is, you don't have to force anything or make anything work. Your genetic blueprint for natural happiness exists within you.

This book aims to further strengthen the bridge between science and spirituality. By building on the work of bestselling New Science authors Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton, it will inspire and inform you about your spiritual genes and how they work.

It is important to note that simply having spiritual genes does not guarantee behaviors that lead to intrinsic happiness. It is evident from the violence that exists in societies -- ancient and modern -- that human beings continue to operate from instincts that obstruct the activation of spiritual genes and heart-based belief. Some of those instincts are hard-wired into the biological mechanisms that once helped us survive; others are the result of negative environments and conditioning. To overcome this obstacle, this book provides practical plans that use epigenetic modalities to reduce those negative instincts and environments that tend to block intrinsic happiness.

Yes, I'm here to tell you that despite the suffering and violence inherent in our hectic world, the cause of true, persistent happiness lives within each of us. It is a biological code, imprinted into our DNA, that makes us human and links us to our Creator. This book will show you, the reader, how to unlock the code to well-being, contentment, fulfillment, and true happiness.

 

Author's Note: If you desire fuller explanations and the history of some of the scientific bases discussed throughout the text, you need only refer to Appendix II: Behavioral Science and Genetics in Depth.)

 

* This excerpt from Happiness Genes reprinted by permission of the publisher, New Page Books. Copyright C 2010 James D. Baird & Laurie Nadel

 

**To order this book from Amazon.com, click here!

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