The Happiness Genes
Are You Happy?*
An Excerpt from
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
Happiness? A Preliminary Exercise
describe how it makes you feel?
feel it in your physical body and/or brain?
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?
climate or the time of day or night influence your being happy -- or not?
happiness depend on others, or certain circumstances?
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
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
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?
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:
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?
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
In situations such as
these, you don't pursue happiness, because it finds you.
Happiness Finds You: An Exercise
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,
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.
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.
some fundamental differences between extrinsic (common) happiness and intrinsic
social in origin Biological and spiritual in
frame of reference Internal frame of reference
comes from the
Action-driven Faith and insight
sense of lack Motivated by altruistic ethics
Conditioned (by expectations) Inherent
(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.
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.
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
within each human being.
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.
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
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!