Authentic Happiness in Denmark Linked to DNA

happy people photo

We’ve long speculated about the key to finding authentic happiness.

Denmark, along with other Northern European nations offer a wide range of social services. There’s seemingly little internal conflict, trust in government, little separation between the rich and the poor–while these are potential motivators of authentic happiness, what if it was more than that? What if happiness also came down to Danish DNA?

Scientists have uncovered genetic traits that may hold a clue as to why the Danes are so smiley all the time. Each year polls and surveys alike name Denmark among the happiest nations. And after looking at international surveys from 131 countries,  researchers are suggesting that genetics may play a role.

“The results were surprising, we found that the greater a nation’s genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported wellbeing of that nation,” said Eugenio Proto, one of the researchers, in a news release, reported in World Science Report. “Our research adjusts for many other influences including Gross Domestic Product, culture, religion and the strength of the welfare state and geography.”

Researchers looked at studies that suggested a link between authentic happiness and a mutation of a gene that influences the reuptake of serotonin. Of 30 nations studied, Denmark and the Netherlands had the highest percentage of people with this variant gene.

“This study has used three kinds of evidence and, contrary to our own assumptions when we began the project, it seems there are reasons to believe that genetic patterns may help researchers to understand international well-being levels,” said Andrew Oswald, one of the researchers on World Science Report. “More research in the area is now needed and economists and social scientists may need to pay greater heed to the role of genetic variation across national populations.”

What do you think? Is there a happiness gene? And is that gene tied to location?

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Image: Tenel Teemusk