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A Fascinating Look at 2 Types of Happiness

Is your work purpose-driven? A recent study found that happiness rooted in purpose might be better for your health than happiness from more superficial sources.

Researchers at UCLA and UNC have identified two different types of happiness--and how they impact your health, according to a recent post on ScienceDaily. 

The first type, known as eudaimonic well-being, is happiness associated with a sense of purpose or a meaning in life. The second, known as hedonic well-being, is happiness as the result of “consummatory self-gratification” or happiness not associated with a purpose but rather a response to a stimulus or behavior.

In Laymen's, think of the difference between a purpose-driven entrepreneur (like, say, charity:water's Scott Harrison) and an entrepreneur who's just in it for the money (they shall remain nameless).

Both happy, but here's where it gets interesting. The study dug into how these different forms of happiness affect the human genome/an individual’s gene expression. The researchers behind the study took blood samples from 80 healthy adults who had been assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-beings. 

They then looked for different gene expressions between the two groups.  

Researchers found that those individuals identified as having eudaimonic well-being or happiness rooted in having a deeper purpose, had more favorable gene expression profiles than individuals with hedonic well-being, or more superficial sources of happiness. Specifically, the individuals with eudaimonic well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and higher levels of anti-viral and anti-body genes than their counterparts, according to ScienceDaily. 

During the study the two groups showed the same levels of positivity, so as a result the researchers concluded that the different forms of happiness they were experiencing impacted their health in different ways. 

"What this study tells us is that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even though they generate similar levels of positive emotion," Steven Cole, a researcher with UCLA and an author of the study, told ScienceDaily.

 

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