02/06/2017 09:49 BST | Updated 02/06/2017 09:49 BST

Don't Let Your DNA Get You Down

You know how easy it is to give in to fatalism? To fall back on that lazy assumption that character and ability and even mood is written into our DNA and that it is pointless to resist?

We might scoff at the pointless 'positive thinking' efforts by those who look in the mirror and chant, "Everyday in every way things are getting better and better" as suggested so many years ago by Emile Coue. Because it's all in our genes, right?

Well, think again.

It turns out that our DNA is not fixed in the way we thought it was. That there is a much greater variation in the way it effects our lives. Our DNA is handed to us from our parents, yes, but it is in itself a varying thing that responds to its environment and therefore, possibly, in the decisions and actions we make.

The study of Epigenetics has led scientists to believe that parts of our DNA are activated and de-activated according to life experience. DNA, that impossibly long twisting amazing molecule, has inert and variable parts to it that can be 'switched on or off' in certain conditions. Crucially, our fatalistic reliance on our DNA as predictor of health and well-being has been handed over to the reality of epigenetics.

So it seems there is more to play for. Fatalists beware.

This new information could give you either a positive or negative outlook.

Having 'Piano Playing' genes handed to you by a long family history of wonderful pianists means that you still have to practice even with the best piano DNA in the land. Epigenetics tells us that those vital ivory tickling traits could be rendered dormant as we smugly settle back into our ancestral good fortune ( and fail to work at our art).

Similarly, it is possible that some hitherto dormant aspects of our genes could be 'woken' by effort and nurture.

Looking backwards to our childhoods or to our ancestors to find reasons for how we are in the present is an easy trap to fall into. Having good or bad genes is now not the fatalistic excuse we can rely on to explain our current predicament.

I am not saying that everyone has the ability to create in themselves a new super-human self-made Ubermensch that defies every part of our nature and nurture. But trusting in the ability to develop healthy and skillful qualities is now out of the hands of the positive thinking brigade and now firmly supported by the reality of epigenetics.

Interested in creating health, skills and well-being in the face of 'bad' DNA?

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