New research suggests that something scientists have dubbed the “brightside gene” is partly responsible for whether we take an optimistic or pessimistic view of life.
It seems that for some of us, seeing the glass as half full is hardwired into our genetic make-up, helping us shrug off the miseries of life and enjoy the positives.
Research by British psychologists suggests that people who carry the gene pay less attention to negative things going on around them and focus instead on the happier aspects of life. By doing so, they end up being more sociable and are generally in better shape psychologically.
Elaine Fox, head of psychology at Essex University, said the gene seems to underlie some people’s ability to deal with daily stresses. Those without it are likely to have a gloomier outlook on life, and suffer more from mental health problems such as depression….
In a study involving more than 100 volunteers, Fox’s team checked how long it took people to react to good and bad images that flashed up on a computer screen. Among the positive pictures were a couple hugging and someone sailing along in a boat. The negative images included a photo of someone being mugged….
Genetic tests on the participants showed that a tendency to ignore negative images and dwell on the positive ones was strongly linked to a variation in a gene that controls serotonin, the brain’s main feelgood chemical.
Instinct says that if you read about this study and think you probably have the happy version of the gene, you probably do.