Genes and happiness

Kenneth Blum, Amanda L.C. Chen, Thomas J.H. Chen, Abdalla Bowirrat, B. William Downs, Roger L. Waite, Jeffrey Reinking, Mallory Kerner, Dasha Braverman, Nicholas DiNubile, Patrich Rhoades, Eric R. Braverman, Stella M. Savarimuthu, Seth H. Blum, Marlene Oscar-Berman, Tomas Palomo, Eric Stice, Mark Gold, David E. Comings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Since the discovery of the double helix, the study of brain function, in terms of both physiology and behavioral traits, has resulted in a plethora of research linking these activities to the genetic basis of neurotransmitter function. Knowledge about how genes are expressed, as well as their potential impairment due to polygenic inheritance, can shed light on predispositions to addiction and self-destructive behaviors. Genetic information derived from scientific explorations of genetic traits may have important links to understanding the basis for feelings of well-being and potentially the phenomena associated with human happiness. While non-genetic oriented research of social, political, and biological studies have addressed the impact of social and institutional environments on mass political attitudes and behaviors, there is a paucity of solid research on the interrelation and influence of genetic and environmental factors on these parameters. The separate fields of psychology and molecular biology are subject to inherent limitations that may only be resolved through collaboration across disciplines. Certainly areas relating to spirituality ("Genospirituality") and political science are just two that are beginning to emerge as fruitful grounds for identification of specific polymorphic gene associations and may pave the way to advance a new science of human nature. We address the issue of "Nature vs. Nurture" as it relates to questions regarding the definition of happiness, its causes, and its promotion. These questions are central to understanding human nature and are emerging as an important target of research, especially in the area of nutrigenomics. The present commentary attempts to identify key "vector influences" that link genes, the brain, nutrition, and social behavior to a most desired, but misunderstood, and potentially fragile experience known as "happiness." Specifically, we propose that successful changes in body composition/body mass index (BMI)/percentage of body fat will increase not only positive self-image, but overall wellness that produces a state of happiness. We provide preliminary evidence that utilization of a customized dopaminergic agonist LG839 DNA directed nutraceutical, significantly increased happiness in obese subjects. We detail genotypes that may play a role in determining happiness, based on current knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-129
Number of pages39
JournalGene Therapy and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • Gene map
  • Genospirituality
  • Happiness
  • Reward deficiency syndrome (RDS)


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