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What Technology Can't Change About Happiness

http://nautil.us/issue/28/2050/what-technology-cant-change-about-happiness

nautil.us

What Technology Can't Change About Happiness
In 2014, researchers at the University of Warwick in England announced they had found a strong association between a gene mutation identified with happiness and well-being. It's called 5-HTTLPR and it affects the way our body metabolizes the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate our moods, sex drives, and appetites.

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Human nature is more than biology

Human nature is more than biology

The level of happiness is part of our genetic makeup - we have a set level and cannot rise above or fall below it.

Some scientists envision the day that we can manipulate our happiness genes with precise nanoscale technologies. These mood bots will travel inside us to a part of the brain and manually turn on genes to up or down our happiness set point. But, scientists assure us that we are more than biology and that a mood bot will not guarantee happy and satisfying lives.

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Quantifying happiness

Happiness has always been difficult to quantify because it is subjective, depending on if you have a short- or a long-term outlook on life. Recently, researchers have started to distinguish between two types of happiness: 

  • Hedonic happiness that provides a mental high;
  • Eudaimonic happiness, a sense of well-being which involves a life well-lived.

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The staples of happiness

People will always be happy when they see their children prosper when they feel loved, secure, and well-fed.

But, this formula for happiness is so obvious that most people dismiss it. They would rather look for a secret ingredient. The answer is that there is no secret.

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The importance of quality relationships

The most compelling evidence on the importance of relationships comes from a long term study that started in 1938. Selected college sophomores who seemed to be destined for success, were followed.

In 1967 the files were merged with the Glueck Study that followed a group of poor, non-delinquent white kids from Boston's inner city.

The most important finding from these studies: The quality of our relationships is the only thing that matters in our lives.

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We are wired for personal connections

The quality of people's relationships is more important than we imagine.

Material success and psychological feelings of well-being are linked to good relationships. So is physical health.

Close relationships and connections keep you happy and healthy.

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Struggling to connect in a overly connected world

Struggling to connect in a overly connected world

We live in an increasingly networked society online, but we struggle to connect with our relations around the dinner table. We sacrifice conversations close to us for a mere connection online.

The result is that we drive ourselves toward a lonely future.

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Technologies and human relationships

Research has found that people who use different mediums, like talking on the phone, emailing each other and also seeing each other, tend to have stronger relationships with one another.

Even though technology might become more and more invasive, the reality is that the source of happiness will remain unaltered.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Happiness Pie Chart

The Happiness Pie Chart

The Happiness Pie Chart, first published in 2005, states that 50% of our happiness is defined by our genes, 40% by our activities and 10% by our life circumstances.

Recent studie...

Give Yourself A Happiness Boost

Ways to give yourself a happiness boost:

  • Choosing activities that fit our personality and interests, feel natural, are enjoyable and aligned with our values.
  • Choosing meaningful and virtuous activities, instead of just going after pleasurable ones.
  • Practicing forgiveness and gratitude.
  • Trying to pursue a purpose.
  • Committing to new habits by making an effort.
  • Adding variety and diversity to our routine.

Productive solitude

Solitude doesn't have to be a negative experience.

Productive solitude happens when we deliberately seek alone time. And this time should not be used for overthinking negative exp...

Feeling active

In determining our pathway to wellbeing, it doesn’t just matter how physically active we are but how active (how energetic, vigorous, and vital) we feel.

Future-mindedness

Even though our predictions aren’t always accurate, the simple act of contemplating the future might be a key to well-being.

It usually is a 2-steps process: first, we dream big and imagine fantasy outcomes; then, we “get real” and come up with pragmatic plans.

Thank You!

Being thankful and saying thanks to others is good for our health and happiness, and helps build trust.

Normally, the act of saying thanks is observed as a two-person exchange, the person ...

The Witness To Gratitude

Studies show that people who witness the act of gratitude get affected positively towards the grateful person as well as the person who is being thanked (benefactor).

They see the grateful person as someone who is kind, and who notices when other people do kind things and takes the time to acknowledge them, making them socially desirable. People also warm up towards the person that is receiving the gratitude, as it is signaled as a person who is effective at being supportive or helpful.

Saying Thanks More Often

Expressing more gratitude works, and more so if done in a demonstrative way, with a hug or flowers.

A sincere thanks benefit our social connections in the entire group or circle.