Love is an incredibly powerful force.
In one of the longest running studies to date, a group of Harvard researchers set out to determine the factors that lead to a happy and purposeful life. The lead researcher's conclusion: "Happiness is love. Full stop."
Seventy-five years after the study began and over twenty million dollars later, researchers found that "A man could have a successful career, money, and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy."
Additional supporting research shows that getting married can cause an increase in happiness equivalent to quadrupling your salary.
Despite love's secret formula for happiness, the vast majority of us find ourselves unhappy and unlucky in love. Current statistics reveal that even when we find love (often difficult enough in itself), "the majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce...or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction."
But there is good news: three in every ten couples remain in happy, healthy relationships. While the odds of this outcome might seem slimmer than we'd like, key factors set apart love "masters" from love "disasters," as relationship expert John Gottman calls them. And the even better news: these determining factors are entirely within our control. With the right awareness and intention, we can all achieve mastery in love and in our relationships and, by extension, increase our overall sense of happiness and well-being.
Mindfulness: The Path to Peak Performance
In 2015, we heard a lot about the power of mindfulness. As highlighted by the New York Times, Forbes, and even ESPN, top players across a number of industries have benefitted tremendously from adopting a regular practice of it. In one surprising NYT piece, the unlikely interview pair Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant traded meditation tips over lunch.
This fact is perhaps not surprising given that one of the benefits of a regular mindfulness practice is heightened mastery (i.e., improved performance with less effort and less stress). Accordingly, companies ranging from Google to General Mills offer mindfulness programs to their employees. Sports teams - from the Seattle Seahawks to the New York Knicks -- include meditation as a regular part of their training. And performers like Clint Eastwood and Sheryl Crow tout the benefits of their own personal practices.
The success of a regular mindfulness practice in business, sports and the arts is not breaking news. But less often discussed is its power to create peak performance in dating and relationships -- helping us not only to be more successful in our relationships, but also to navigate them with less effort and less stress. Can I get a Hallelujah?
Time and time and time again, I've seen friends, partners, and even myself make dating and relationships way more difficult and complicated than they need to be, leading to unnecessary frustration and resentment at a minimum, and to heartbreak and 4 empty pints of Haagen Dasz at a maximum.
In this multi-part series, we'll explore the following 4 key principles of mindfulness that can help us all achieve greater mastery in love and our relationships.