Navigation Links
Human cells respond in healthy, unhealthy ways to different kinds of happiness
Date:7/29/2013

Human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal, responding in ways that can help or hinder physical health, according to new research led by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The sense of well-being derived from "a noble purpose" may provide cellular health benefits, whereas "simple self-gratification" may have negative effects, despite an overall perceived sense of happiness, researchers found. "A functional genomic perspective on human well-being" was published July 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

"Philosophers have long distinguished two basic forms of well-being: a 'hedonic' [hee-DON-ic] form representing an individual's pleasurable experiences, and a deeper 'eudaimonic,' [u-DY-moh-nick] form that results from striving toward meaning and a noble purpose beyond simple self-gratification," wrote Fredrickson and her colleagues.

It's the difference, for example, between enjoying a good meal and feeling connected to a larger community through a service project, she said. Both give us a sense of happiness, but each is experienced very differently in the body's cells.

"We know from many studies that both forms of well-being are associated with improved physical and mental health, beyond the effects of reduced stress and depression," Fredrickson said. "But we have had less information on the biological bases for these relationships."

Collaborating with a team from the University of California at Los Angeles led by Steven W. Cole, professor of medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Fredrickson and her colleagues looked at the biological influence of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being through the human genome. They were interested in the pattern of gene expression within people's immune cells.

Past work by Cole and colleagues had discovered a systematic shift in gene expression associated with chronic stress, a shift "characterized by increased expression of genes involved in inflammation" that are implicated in a wide variety of human ills, including arthritis and heart disease, and "decreased expression of genes involved in antiviral responses," the study noted. Cole and colleagues coined the phrase "conserved transcriptional response to adversity" or CTRA to describe this shift. In short, the functional genomic fingerprint of chronic stress sets us up for illness, Fredrickson said.

But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers.

Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being.

Fredrickson found the results initially surprising, because study participants themselves reported overall feelings of well-being. One possibility, she suggested, is that people who experience more hedonic than eudaimonic well-being consume the emotional equivalent of empty calories. "Their daily activities provide short-term happiness yet result in negative physical consequences long-term," she said.

"We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those 'empty calories' don't help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically," she said. "At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose."

The results bolster Fredrickson's previous work on the effects of positive emotions, as well as research linking a sense of connectedness with longevity. "Understanding the cascade to gene expression will help inform further work in these areas," she added.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kathy Neal
kcneal@unc.edu
919-740-5673
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Gianluca Tognon Announces a New E-book About the Consequences of Global Warming on Food Safety and Human Health
2. Dahryn Trivedi to Deliver Magnetic Insight on the "Benefits of Stress in a Human's Prosperity"
3. Health and Human Services Professionals to Collaborate and Learn Together at Netsmart CONNECTIONS2013 Conference
4. Researchers report a complete description of gene expression in the human retina
5. Dahryn Trivedi Delivers Magnetic Insight on Obstacles in the Way of Human Transformation
6. Infinity Rehab Appoints Vice President of Human Resources and Director of Professional Development
7. Single men, smokers at higher risk for oral human papillomavirus infection, Moffitt study shows
8. Program and registration open for International Annual Meeting of Human Factors/Ergonomics Professionals
9. Psychotherapist and Spiritual Teacher Heather Hans Explains How to Resolve Most Prominent Affliction in Human Psyche in New Book
10. New Book Explains How Fungi Affects Human Health
11. Orriant’s Corporate Wellness Programs Focus on Individual Employees and Follow New Health and Human Services (HHS) Regulations
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and are derived ... eye of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary in the ... Care. For the full issue, click here . , For the American Society ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios ... X. , "Film editors can give their videos a whole new perspective by using ... - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop ... The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... all type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... health policy issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, ... work on several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June ... , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to ... is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. The US ... will serve to drive considerable growth for effective anti-influenza medications. ... cap sales considerably, but development is still in its infancy. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a new affiliate with operations headquartered ... Latin America . ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ... (United States, China, Japan, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, France, ... Surgical Procedure Volumes: ... provides surgical procedure volume data in a geographic context. ... analysis of growth drivers and inhibitors, including world population ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: