(CBS) — What role does happiness play in human life? That’s what a University of Chicago professor is trying to find out.

Professor Candace Vogler has launched a project called, “Virtue, Happiness and the Meaning of Life.” She says there is a common thread uniting those who are truly happy.

“The way you live your life is in seeing it connection with something bigger and better than you are,” Vogler said. “That’s the thing that can allow your life, your daily life, to be a source of joy and meaning for you.”

Her research has shown that many people are happy and don’t even realize it.

“You can fail to notice the things that are actually nurturing and feeding you,” Vogler. “Especially if it’s the people around you that you can easily come to take for granted.”