Do you have a happy gene? - FOX Carolina 21

Do you have a happy gene?

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Do you have a happy gene? (Courtesy: AP Graphics) Do you have a happy gene? (Courtesy: AP Graphics)

Hanging out with friends or a bike ride may make you happy, but some believe being happy is part of your genetic makeup. However, others say it's not that simple.

"If it was based on a gene then I should've been happy the whole time," Dawn Boyd said.

When doctors diagnosed Boyd with breast cancer she had some really tough days. She says she stopped being artistic and stopped being active.

"That made my brain bored and boredom can lead to emptiness," Boyd said.

She went to therapy and now understands her up and down days.

"A good thing is to understand that that's normal and it's OK," Boyd said.

Researchers with the University of North Carolina and University of California, Los Angles (UCLA) say a happy gene known as the FAAH gene could be linked to happiness.

"We all define happiness in different ways," Dr. Joseph Paciarelli, Psy.D is a clinical psychologist with Bon Secours Saint Francis Health System in Greenville.

"It's not an ultimate goal it is just like fear, depression, joy- transient moments of emotions and emotions trend to change," Paciarelli said. "I think it's helpful research. I think from a treatment standpoint, we can only move forward with the technology that we have."

Research shows FAAH releases an enzyme into blood streams that impacts expression and activity. And international researchers say it could explain why some people are happy regardless of wealth.

"Happiness is essentially your life is working out the way you want it to," Paciarelli said.

He also says he doesn't want the research to send sad signals either.

"Many people would say well I guess I come from bad genes and there's not hope for me," Paciarelli said.

He says there's always hope.

"Happiness comes from inside," he said.

And it's what Boyd has learned.

"I've become a lot happier," she said.

Paciarelli says although we may think a pill or a relationship could make us happy, studies show acts of kindness, a spiritual sense of meaning, and people who engage in exercise or some form of activity have less depression. 

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