Saturday, September 13, 2008

5 Keys to Happiness

By Greg Soltis, LiveScience Staff

If you're not happy and you know it read along.

You've watched "Seinfeld" re-runs, splurged on yourself and downed pints of Ben and Jerry's. Nothing's helping. Maybe you're one of the 20 million Americans diagnosed with depression, you're bottoming out or you just want something to improve your day.

Here are five ways — some admittedly challenging — to help you get that much-needed mood boost:

1. Pick good parents

In Happy Land, genes trump environmental factors, according to the experts. And a study in the March issue of the journal Psychological Science scores another point for the gene team: Differences in DNA that could explain why some people tend to have an extra bounce in their step might also underlie the tendency to be more emotionally stable and socially and physically active.

Genes do not provide free passes from the doldrums, and other external factors will still try to mow you down. But, heredity could provide some people with a horde of happiness that they can draw from when the good times aren’t rolling.

And Canadian researchers' ability to genetically stifle depression in mice in 2006 indicates that human happiness could one day be improved by manipulating genes. This was the first time science throttled the throes of any organism. Mice bred to be void of the gene, called TREK-1, acted as if they had been downing anti-depressants for at least three weeks.

2. Give it away

It only takes $5 spent on others to make you happier on a given day, according to a 2008 study. And selfless acts can also help your marriage become a more enjoyable experience for you and your spouse.

After performing good deeds, people are happier and feel their life has more purpose. But is the act selfless if you expect something in return? Maybe it just depends on how you look at it.

Read the full article here.

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