Part II – In this article, we discuss “The Way, Back to Natural-Born Happiness.”
“Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences, we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness.” – Alexander Weiss, University of Edinburgh
Newborn babies come into the world with few expectations, open hearts, and boatloads of wonder. Everything and everybody are awesome and deserve a smile. Give them a little love, food, attention, and lots of fresh diapers, and they stay naturally happy – and smell good, too. Babies don’t ask for happiness, they don’t expect it, but they will invite you to join in – to their natural-born happy state of mind.
But not always, say “baby scientists” Arber Tasimi and J. Kiley Hamlin of the Yale Infant Cognition Center. Babies are born with a range of personality traits. Most babies are instinctively helpful and sharing, what most of us think of as “good babies.” But some babies are not. For better or worse some part of a baby’s nature seems to be well established at birth, and possibly, even before they are conceived! Research by Dr. Alberto Halabe Bucay suggests that, “the parent’s psychology before conception can actually affect the child’s genes.“
The Second Code: Always in Play
Alongside our primary genetic code, our DNA, we inherit a “second code” at birth, an array of tiny molecules affixed to the histone proteins that come entwined within our DNA (genes). This second code, the epigenome, carries predispositions for all kinds of behaviors, the coded memory of survival strategies learned by our parents, their parents, and our grandparents parents.
This imprinted epigenome is inherited alongside our genes, or genome. Half of each of these codes, the genome and epigenome, goes into each of sperm and egg. At least four generations of family personality traits (or lack of) like helping, sharing, empathy, ethical decisions, happiness, and many others become imprinted on this second ever-malleable “epigenetic” code. This set of epigenetic “markers” remains attached to both histone proteins and DNA. This second code is imprinted as molecular “markers” that can change in response to a slew of environmental factors – experiences, diets, and traumas like PTSD. Neglectful mothering and/or traumas in early childhood can imprint more epigenetic markers in addition to those that have been inherited. Together, this epigenome determines social behaviors for life, and the social behaviors of future generations, too. Happiness, depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and addictive behaviors are just a few traits and conditions that arise from epigenetic markers, or inherited “predispositions.” (An Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics, David Moore, 2015)
Read on by clicking to page 2…