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For some, it takes more effort to be happy


Narrator:          This is Science Today. Some people are just born happier than others. But psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside, says just because there are genetic influences on happiness does not mean people can't change.

Lyubomirsky:   If we can't really change our happiness set point, I believe you can change your happiness level. So, people can, with a lot of effort, become happier. And when it comes to something like slowing down adaptation — why is that hard? Well, probably because adaptation is so hardwired. It's evolutionarily adaptive. It's just something that all human being experience and it's hard to kind of fight a natural process.

Narrator:          What Lyubomirsky is referring to is a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation, in which people get used to changes in life, especially positive ones.

Lyubomirsky:    Relationships are a great example because we come to this understanding that this sort of passionate romantic love is what we all should aim for. But what happens is that passionate love cannot sustain itself, so again it's very hard to combat that very natural process of adaptation. We can do it, but it takes a lot of effort.

Narrator:          For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.