Everything you should know about happiness in one infographic

According to science, you can control about 40% of your happiness.

Happiness infographic on how to enjoy your life


We often talk about happiness, yet rarely take the time to define it. And that’s probably because it is incredibly difficult — each scientific discipline has its own take on it.

From a philosophical perspective the concept of happiness is often related to living a “good life”, flourishing, virtue, and excellence, rather than to experiencing an emotion. To psychologists happiness is an emotional and mental state of well-being related to experiencing positive emotions but also to a sense of meaning and satisfaction from life. 

Economists are also interested in happiness and have developed numerous surveys, indices, and equations to let us know which nations and people are the happiest. Besides the subjectively reported levels of happiness (towards which they are understandably suspicious), economists believe that factors like individual income, social security, employment, relationships, children, freedom, and leisure, have a big impact on our happiness.

In 2012, the UN started publishing an annual World Happiness Report - a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 155 countries on six key indicators: freedom, generosity, health, social support, income, and trustworthy governance. By these measures, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland took the top spots in 2017. The US came 14th. 

But our national level of happiness does not necessarily translate into a personal one. According to psychologists, circumstances are responsible for only about 10% of our personal levels of happiness. Studies have shown that regardless of what happens to people - winning the lottery or losing a limb - their happiness levels tend to return to what they were before the event in about two months. This phenomenon is called the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation.

Researchers say that another 50% of our happiness is determined by our biology, and more specifically, genetically determined personality traits like "being sociable, active, stable, hardworking and conscientious.”  Twins who had similar scores in key traits — extroversion, calmness and conscientiousness, for example — had similar happiness scores, but these similarities disappeared once the traits were accounted for.

Not all is lost, however. 40% of your happiness is determined by your thoughts, actions, and behaviours. According to Buddha, this is enough to liberate you from suffering, if you channel this potential in the right thoughts, actions and behaviours. Science agrees -- there is a lot you can do to influence your happiness levels. 

Happify, a company dedicated to helping people live happier lives, has created a wonderful infographic summarizing the most relevant research on happiness and what you can do to increase it. See it below. 

If you like it, you may also enjoy their infographic on Happy Relationships.


 

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This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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