Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mindwandering and Happiness

Being in the moment brings happiness.

Now research from Harvard psychologists seems to affirm what we know from experience with meditation and mindfulness practices.

The researchers are looking at happiness as "to what extent people feel good or bad in the moment, as they are going about their lives," as explained by researcher Matthew Killingsworth on Science Friday.

They find, not surprisingly, that most of us are not living in the moment: "People seem to be mind wandering a lot... 47% of the time people are thinking about something other than what they are doing."

What are you thinking about now?

The research suggests a strong negative relationship between "mind wandering" and happiness. People are unhappiest when their minds are wandering. In fact, data suggest mind wandering is a cause of unhappiness.

The activity with the lowest rate of self-reported mind wandering is when having sex (10%), followed by exercising.

Participate in the study -- as reported this week in Science magazine and covered by NPR's Science Friday, the NY Times, and ScienceNews among other outlets -- and track your happiness.

How happy are you in this moment?

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