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What Technology Can't Change About Happiness - Issue 28: 2050 - Nautilus

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What Technology Can't Change About Happiness - Issue 28: 2050 - Nautilus
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

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 ge...

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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 distingu...

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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. The...

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The importance of 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...

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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....

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A dystopian new 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. ...

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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.

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The Importance Of Boredom

It drives us to engage in activities that we find more meaningful than those at hand. Without it, we’d be perpetually excited by everything.

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Focus And The Brain

When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming

  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

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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.