Activate Now
ProHealth health Vitamin and Natural Supplement Store and Health
Home  |  Log In  |  My Account  |  View Cart  View Your ProHealth Vitamin and Supplement Shopping Cart
800-366-6056  |  Contact Us  |  Help
Facebook Google Plus
Fibromyalgia  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & M.E.  Lyme Disease  Natural Wellness  Supplement News  Forums  Our Story
Store     Brands   |   A-Z Index   |   Best Sellers   |   New Products   |   Deals & Specials   |   Under $10   |   SmartSavings Club

Trending News

Repair Damaged Mitochondria and Reduce Fatigue Up to 45%

How One LLND Treats Lyme disease and Co-infections Using Natural Medicine

SURVEY RESULTS: Has Your Illness Affected What You Eat?

New depression diagnosis and treatment

Surprising Benefits of Cinnamon

Specific vitamin D levels linked to heart problems

A Sleep Intervention For Children With Autism: A Pilot Study

Higher vitamin D levels may be protective against acute rhinosinusitis

Real Life as a Mom with Chronic Illness

Saffron reduces oxidative stress in metabolic syndrome patients

Print Page
Email Article

Human cells respond in healthy, unhealthy ways to different kinds of happiness

  [ 2 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • August 8, 2013

Press Release: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, July 29, 2013

Human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal, responding in ways that can help or hinder physical health, according to new research led by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The sense of well-being derived from “a noble purpose” may provide cellular health benefits, whereas “simple self-gratification” may have negative effects, despite an overall perceived sense of happiness, researchers found. “A functional genomic perspective on human well-being” was published July 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Philosophers have long distinguished two basic forms of well-being: a ‘hedonic’ [hee-DON-ic] form representing an individual’s pleasurable experiences, and a deeper ‘eudaimonic,’ [u-DY-moh-nick] form that results from striving toward meaning and a noble purpose beyond simple self-gratification,” wrote Fredrickson and her colleagues.

It’s the difference, for example, between enjoying a good meal and feeling connected to a larger community through a service project, she said. Both give us a sense of happiness, but each is experienced very differently in the body’s cells.

“We know from many studies that both forms of well-being are associated with improved physical and mental health, beyond the effects of reduced stress and depression,” Fredrickson said. “But we have had less information on the biological bases for these relationships.”

Collaborating with a team from the University of California at Los Angeles  led by Steven W. Cole, professor of medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Fredrickson and her colleagues looked at the biological influence of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being through the human genome. They were interested in the pattern of gene expression within people’s immune cells.

Past work by Cole and colleagues had discovered a systematic shift in gene expression associated with chronic stress, a shift “characterized by increased expression of genes involved in inflammation” that are implicated in a wide variety of human ills, including arthritis and heart disease, and “decreased expression of genes involved in … antiviral responses,” the study noted. Cole and colleagues coined the phrase “conserved transcriptional response to adversity” or CTRA to describe this shift. In short, the functional genomic fingerprint of chronic stress sets us up for illness, Fredrickson said.

But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers.

Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being.  

Fredrickson found the results initially surprising, because study participants themselves reported overall feelings of well-being. One possibility, she suggested, is that people who experience more hedonic than eudaimonic well-being consume the emotional equivalent of empty calories. “Their daily activities provide short-term happiness yet result in negative physical consequences long-term,” she said.  

“We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically,” she said. “At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”

The results bolster Fredrickson’s previous work on the effects of positive emotions, as well as research linking a sense of connectedness with longevity. “Understanding the cascade to gene expression will help inform further work in these areas,” she added.

Fredrickson collaborated with Karen M. Grewen, associate professor of psychiatry in UNC’s School of Medicine; and Kimberly A. Coffey, research assistant professor, and Sara B. Algoe, assistant professor, both of psychology, in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Note: Fredrickson may be reached at

Post a Comment

Featured Products From the ProHealth Store
Ultra ATP+, Double Strength Optimized Curcumin Longvida® Vitamin D3 Extreme™

Looking for Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements?
Search the ProHealth Store for Hundreds of Natural Health Products

Article Comments

Be the first to comment on this article!

Post a Comment

Free Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Newsletters
Subscribe to
Subscribe Now!
Receive up-to-date ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia & Lyme Disease treatment and research news
 Privacy Guaranteed  |  View Archives

Repair Damaged Mitochondria and Reduce Fatigue Up to 45%

Featured Products

Optimized Curcumin Longvida® Optimized Curcumin Longvida®
Supports Cognition, Memory & Overall Health
Ultra ATP+, Double Strength Ultra ATP+, Double Strength
Get energized with malic acid & magnesium
Vitamin D3 Extreme™ Vitamin D3 Extreme™
50,000 IU Vitamin D3 - Prescription Strength
Mitochondria Ignite™ with NT Factor® Mitochondria Ignite™ with NT Factor®
Reduce Fatigue up to 45%
Energy NADH™ 12.5mg Energy NADH™ 12.5mg
Improve Energy & Cognitive Function

Natural Remedies

Coenzyme Q10 - The Energy Maker Coenzyme Q10 - The Energy Maker
Research Links Green Tea to Weight Loss Research Links Green Tea to Weight Loss
Strontium - The Missing Mineral for Strong Bones Strontium - The Missing Mineral for Strong Bones
Strengthen Cell Function with Energy-Boosting Niagen Strengthen Cell Function with Energy-Boosting Niagen
Rejuvenating the Brain - How PQQ Helps Power Up Mental Processing Rejuvenating the Brain - How PQQ Helps Power Up Mental Processing

What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Fibromyalgia Causes
Fibromyalgia Treatments
Fibromyalgia Diet
Fibromyalgia Medications
M.E. & CFS
What is M.E./CFS?
M.E./CFS Diagnosis
M.E./CFS Symptoms
M.E./CFS Causes
M.E./CFS Treatments
M.E./CFS Diet
M.E./CFS Medications
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease Diagnosis
Lyme Disease Symptoms
Lyme Disease Causes
Lyme Disease Treatments
Lyme Disease Diet
Lyme Disease Medications
M.E. & CFS
Lyme Disease
General Health
ProHealth on Facebook  ProHealth on Twitter  ProHealth on Pinterest  ProHealth on Google Plus
Credit Card Processing