1179335_big_eyes  New research from Tel Aviv University by Yoram Barak claims that we may one day be able to find the genetic component of happiness, which may be up to 50% responsible for an optimistic outlook. The researchers are excited that we may potentially be able to manipulate systems and increase levels of happiness.

 Clearly, such a scenario sounds very appealing, but Katie Gilbert asks some thought-provoking questions… Is the genetic theory of happiness sophisticated or reductive? What kind of happiness are we looking for and who decides what happiness is? “Potent and staccato or diluted and sustained? Reality-enhancing or distorting? Self-aggrandizing or humbling?” Furthermore, “how do we account for the way happiness matures and transforms and takes on new definitions over a lifetime?”

 Gilbert raises the question: what if we do discover a genetic ‘switch’ (or a thousand of them) that over a life time is undoubtedly switched on and switched off an uncountable number of times, would we really want it any other way?

 Certainly Barak’s research is exciting and fascinating, but at the same time, as with any genetic research, voices such as Gilbert’s are essential to open up our discussions and consider the implications of manipulating our genes.

 

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