Most of the people in my family are fairly cheerful people. My mom, in particular, is the most upbeat and optimistic person I've ever met.
It's a little odd, in that nobody in my family is a millionaire, and we've all had our fair share of traumas. And yet, here we are, apparently happier than your average stressed-out American.
Why is this?
Well, I've written before about the Latino tendency to be positive, even in the face of grim news and dreary statistics. But I recently came across a scientific theory for this relentless smiling.
Now, it's old news that research "suggests an association between mental wellbeing and a mutation of the gene that influences the reuptake of serotonin, which is believed to be linked to human mood."
Basically, much of our happiness, or lack thereof, may be traced to our genetic makeup.
Scientists have found that the Scandinavian population is most likely to have this gene. This may be one reason why Denmark, Finland, and other counties in that region perennially rank as the happiest nations on Earth.
Of course, a progressive government that ensures a high standard of living for their citizens may have something to do with that perpetual singsong attitude. But let's not dwell on that because it's, you know, socialism.
In any case, additional research has found that like the Scandinavians, Latin Americans are "more likely to contain a specific allele involved in sensory pleasure and pain reduction."
As such, Latin Americas and Scandinavians are more likely to be chipper than, say, the Chinese or the Iraqis (of course, there are very real non-genetic reasons for their respective unhappiness too).
Is it possible, then, that as more Hispanics intermarry and intermingle and inter-you-know-what, they will spread their happiness genes among more and more Americans?
Hey, there's only one way to find out.