Is being happy the primary objective of your life?

Today is February 14 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “is being happy the primary objective of your life?” The research is overwhelmingly clear: “the pressure to be happy makes people less happy. Organizing your life around trying to become happier, making happiness the primary objective of life gets in the way of actually becoming happy.”

Research within the field of positive psychology continues to illustrate that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. "Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life. What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans.”

As the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, Robert Waldinger understands that being happy is actually the byproduct of what should be the primary objective of your life – deep, meaningful relationships. In his November 2015 TEDx talk "What makes a good life?" viewed more than 12 million times, Waldinger discussed that the commercial projection of a good life – wealth, fame, career success – won’t bring health or happiness. It’s the work they put into maintaining connections with other human beings that will. The hard work required to develop and sustain deep meaningful relationships is the key to a happier and healthier life.

American poet James Oppenheim wrote "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet." Are you so busy looking into the future, or perhaps waiting for someone or something to happen, that you have lost sight of what is right under your feet? Are you so obsessed with commercial success that you neglect relationships and find yourself both sad and alone?