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What Technology Can't Change About Happiness

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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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

What Technology Can't Change About Happiness

What Technology Can't Change About Happiness

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

nautil.us

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hedonic adaptation

Hedonic adaptation refers to people’s common tendency to return to a determined level of happiness regardless of life’s ups and downs.

Hedonic adaptation is often referred to as “the hedonic ...

Examples of Hedonic Adaptation
  • People who win the lottery are likely to revert to their original levels of happiness after the novelty of the win has worn off.
  • It is also true for those who are in major accidents. People generally tend to return to their pre-accident levels of happiness after a period.
  • Research has found that the first bite of something delicious is experienced as more pleasurable than the subsequent bites.
How Much Control We Have

Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky has examined this set-point:

A full 50 percent of our happiness set-point is due to genetics. 10 percent is affected primarily by circumstances like where we were born and to whom. 40 percent is subject to our influence.

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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.

Happiness vs Joy

Happiness is dependent on outside circumstances to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness. It’s based on internal and external circumstances, thus unstable, wi...

Finding Joy

Happiness lies on transitory things, so simplify your life and possessions to get a clearer path to a better internal life. When stuff, people, and the problems they bring fall away, the resulting stillness allows you to find the self-sufficient joy that resides inside.

Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are and why you are. When you need nothing but your truth to bring peace, then you have settled into unshakable abiding joy.

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.

Research shows that people who are bored...

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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Connection and belonging
Connection and belonging

These are essential for a healthy and happy life.

Humans need close connections to be healthy, no matter the form they take: friendship, marriage, or family.

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety

Meditation improves your quality of life and boosts your immune system.

Research showed that meditation decreases anger and improves sleep, even among prison inmates.

The positive health effects of religion and spirituality

People with strong faith release control of their struggles and worries to a higher power, which helps to relieve anxiety and stress.

Religious groups also offer a strong source of community and friendships, which is critical for health and happiness.

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Positive Thinking
  • Recall positive life events.
  • Help others and remind yourself that you can impact the world and feel happier.
  • Practice mindfulness that makes you more pres...
Creating Purpose

Living a life with meaning and purpose is key to improving your psychological well-being. Your purpose doesn’t necessarily have to involve changing the world or devoting yourself to helping others.

If you lack a purpose, think about the legacy you’d like to leave behind and establish some objectives that can help you reach those goals. 

Psychological Well-Being

it is the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively. People with high psychological well-being report feeling capable, well-supported, and satisfied with life, besides living longer and healthier lives.

Researchers found that the absence of distress doesn’t necessarily correlate with high psychological well-being, but it does with having one’s basic needs met. 

Subjective well-being

This is the primary way Positive Psychology researchers have defined and measured people's happiness and well-being.

It's defined as your evaluations of your own life and your mo...

Subjective Well-Being components

It consists of 3 parts: positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction.

Positive affect and negative affect are basically your emotions and moods, and life satisfaction refers to the evaluation of your life as a whole (how satisfied you are with your life, what you would change etc).

Measuring Subjective Well-Being

Tracking your own subjective well-being can be very powerful if you keep alongside a journal of your life's events. 

Keep it up for some time and you will see trends emerge. You'll also be able to adjust your activities in order to maximize positive affect and life satisfaction and minimize negative affect.

Increasing your well-being

A growing body of research shows we can reliably raise our well-being.

Reframing the way we think about money and making financial decisions can lead to long-term gains in life satisfaction.&...

Two categories of happiness
  • The level of positive emotions. This includes pride, joy, contentment, and curiosity we experience on a day-to-day basis. How happy you are on an immediate basis fluctuates by the day or even the hour.
  • The overarching sense of contentment. How happy you are overall, generally remains the same. When you rate your happiness on a 10-point scale, if you are a seven kind of person, you will often stay around seven.
Buy time

Buying time by outsourcing unpleasant or disliked tasks can benefit our well-being. 

Unfortunately, we're not great at valuing time over money. To change our spending habits, it helps to value time more than money. It could mean that we seek a job for its flexibility rather than the salary and prestige.

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