Is happiness genetic?

The kind of happiness people feel can have different physical effects, researchers say.

Story highlights

  • Hedonic well-being is a happiness from instant gratification
  • Eudaimonic well-being is a happiness that comes from working toward greater good
  • Working toward the greater good has more positive impact physically, study finds

(CNN)You feel happiness all the way down to your genes, scientists say. But the kind of happiness you're feeling matters, as different kinds can have wildly different effects on your physical well-being.

In fact, the happiness you get from instant gratification -- eating that giant cupcake or buying that fabulous pair of shoes -- may have the same physical impact on your genes as depression or stress, according to a groundbreaking study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    "I've been studying the physical and psychological impact of positive emotion for 20 years, (and) the pattern of results we found with this study completely surprised me," said the lead author, Barbara Fredrickson.
      Fredrickson is a professor of psychology and the principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina.
      "I've known anecdotally that positive emotions impact us on a cellular level, but seeing these results have given us proof that there is a real difference in the kinds of happiness we feel and its potential long-term consequences."
      The experts divide well-being into two different types: hedonic and eudaimonic. These are fancy words to describe happiness that comes from two different