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Man vs. Woman: How Biology Makes Women the Happier Gender

Happy Boy

One would think that being happy is almost entirely dependent on one’s social surroundings. Moreover, the emotion is considered equal in men and women. It’s quite a shocker then, when science discovers a genetic marker that exists solely in women, increasing the dosage of the light and smiley feeling we all strive to eternally feel. A study published earlier in the year, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, proposes that 35-50% of one’s happiness can be accounted to our genes, mostly due to a particular piece of the puzzle known as the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene. Could it be? Is it truly better to be a woman? It's amazing what modern society has accomplished!

Women have long been deemed the unlucky gender, prone to more ails and illnesses than men, forced to endure hardships men can only dream to bear. Would be rather curious to see how a man’s biology holds up under the stress of a 9-month pregnancy and then labour. Yet, with all the negative hype about being a woman, we seem to be biologically blessed with higher levels of happiness. The strangest part, however, is that the men studied with the same gene indicate no more glee than those without it, having experts scratching their heads in wonder.

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What is it about these women that allow the genes to cause such a positive reaction? The study took into account that age and education might affect one’s happiness, alongside household income, marital status, employment status, mental disorder, physical health, relationship quality, abuse history, recent negative life events and self-esteem. However, when working to compare those who shared the same or similar backgrounds, they found that females do indeed show a significant increase in the emotion in question, when compared to those without the genes and males.

It’s a curious thought when one considers it closely. It’s often believed that happiness can be bought, especially in modern commercial society. For the more philosophical, happiness is often a direct influence of one’s surroundings. Hang out with those who are not going to suck up your energy. As such, living in a calm and beautiful area, often within nature, is recommended by the wizened elderly. Follow your heart and you will always be happy, right? Quite amusing when you consider that a person missing a genetic code might have all the luxuries in the world, the greatest family and friends, an attentive lover, health and beauty, and still be rather miserable. On the contrary, you may have one of simple means, without the extravagance of the former example but without trauma and maltreatment from her surroundings, be the happiest individual.

The happiest people, as such, are those women who carry the MAOA gene and live in an environment with fewer stressors, allowing for biology to create certain resilience and offset the effects of any negativity in her surroundings. Lucky women! It’s not every day that we are given proof that women have it better than men!

Source: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. Jan2013, Vol. 40, p122-125.