Friday, March 7, 2014

Possible Explanation of Why 2 Different Types of Happiness Have Vastly Contrasting Effects on Human Genome

There is a research study on Happiness done by Barbara Fredrickson that has found that 2 groups of people who focused on seeking 2 separate types of Happiness(Hedonic and Eudaimonic) have faced 2 contrasting effects in their gene expression. The Hedonic group has high inflammation and low antiviral and low antibody gene expression, the Eudaimonic group has low inflammation and high antiviral and high antibody gene expression.

The reports state that focusing solely on Hedonic Happiness is a form of unhealthy Happiness--

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130730/Different-types-of-happiness-have-surprisingly-different-effects-on-human-genome.aspx
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/30/health/happy-genes/index.html?hpt=hp_c4

"Inflammation is the first line of defense against infection, so that would be a very useful kind of protein to have; however, something that causes your body to create inflammation over a sustained amount of time can cause collateral damage to healthy tissue."


The Co-author Steve Cole theorized that the stress found in the group that concentrates on Hedonic happiness comes from having a vulnerable source of well-being and having no helpful support. I feel I have a more accurate explanation.

I feel that the stress from the Hedonic group comes instead from a lack of general direction and meaning in one's life. Without a good sense of direction and meaning of life to calm a person down, a person that is uncertain and lost within life would constantly be physically and mentally on-guard to face any sort of difficulties and future unknowns. They would constantly be on high threat alert to prepare to face any threatening scenarios. Therefore, I think the stress from this group comes from the fear of major life difficulties and possibly also the denial of facing such difficulties.

My Concrete Road Analogy of Happiness—
Hedonic and Eudaimonic Happiness can work together quite like ensuring a car can move smoothly on the road. Hedonic happiness is quite like the wheels of a car that individually lifts a car above the ground. Together with the long stretch of concrete road that also lifts the car above raw non-traversable terrain, they both allow the car to go where it needs to go.

I feel Hedonic Happiness is a smaller and concentrated range of Happiness dealing to offset small concentrated forms of negative disturbances/limitations that occur in daily life. For example, the car wheels offsets the strong disturbances/limitations of many small striking rocks on the road. Eudaimonc Happiness is a broader and longer range of Happiness dealing to offset less concentrated prolonged forms of negative disturbances/limitations. For example, the road serves to offset the less-prominent uneven prolonged disturbances/limitations found on raw uneven terrain.

The concrete road analogy that I mentioned also represents having a clear direction that the person can follow. The group that focuses on Eudaimonic Happiness would symbolically have a clear distinct road to follow. The other group focusing on Hedonic Happiness would not be riding on a road but on the rough terrain constantly trying to find a direction to head towards in life. Since they are not on a concrete road but rides on rough terrain, they face a bumpy and shaky(stress-filled) ride frequently trying to find a new direction. The other group focusing on Eudaimonic Happiness rides on a concrete road(Eudaimonic) with a direction, and face a pleasant and peaceful ride to a pre-determined destination in life.

Having no sense of direction in life can create stress and panic of dealing with feel meaninglessness, stress that comes from the need to find other sources of meaning, and the stress of rushing quickly to get to new ones. A life getting from one source of Hedonic Happiness to countless others is unsettling, disjointed and stressful compared to a life with meaning that is more stable.