Yesterday, after my workshop on Happiness someone came to me and said that he liked the presentation, but he thought that I should have mentioned as well that Happiness is 80% biological.
Firstly, is happiness indeed 80% biological?
After the event, I did some reading and found one study that tested twins who were separated at some point of their lives which indeed found the 80% biological relevance (1).
When we study Happiness we always run into a measurement problem, because happiness is an emotion, which is hard to measure logically. This means that this twin study can be accurate to many degrees, but it still has to be generalized heavily.
Moreover, Happiness has too many dimensions. There are too many things that can or cannot make us happy, no matter how much physically of psychologically we are predisposed to be happy.
Lastly, should we even care about these 80%? This was my main answer to this person who approached me after the event.
The number 80% might be correct, or might not be. Who cares?! This one study does not necessarily making an accurate prediction, which we can generalize to the who human population. Furthermore, we can’t do anything with the information that we are biologically per-disposed to happiness. I know a lot of people like Nick Vujicic (who was born without hands and legs), who are genetically per-disposed to be unhappy, but who make an extra effort to be happy. In case of Nick Vujicic, he is indeed one of the worlds inspirational zealots of happiness.
We might indeed only have 1% conscious control of our bodies and our minds, if indeed our unconscious mind is 99% in control. If we have 1% control over 20% of our non-physical happiness, that is a great news! This is much more control than I ever could have asked for.
1. Lykken D, Tellegen A(1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenommon. Psychoogical Science, 7(3): 186–189.