In the present study, the researchers drew blood samples from 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounding negative psychological and behavioral factors. The team used the CTRA gene-expression profile to map the potentially distinct biological effects of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.
What they found is that different types of happiness have surprisingly different effects on the human genome. It appears that the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than are conscious minds, because “What this study tells us is that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even though they generate similar levels of positive emotion.”
People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life (think Mother Teresa) — showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.
However, people who had relatively high levels of hedonic well-being — the type of happiness that comes from consummatory self-gratification (think most celebrities) — actually showed just the opposite. They had an adverse expression profile involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression.
The report appears in the current online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
An Interesting Study that demonstrated through scientific methods that “Happiness at material level” and “Happiness at spiritual level” has different genetic expression profiles