A Wandering Mind Is An Unhappy Mind

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In The Stress Test, Dr. Ian Robertson tells us:

“The SMS signal in your phone bleeps. A question on the screen: How are you feeling right now? You choose a number from between 0 (very bad) to 100 (very good). Another question: What are you doing right now? You scroll through and click from the choices. Then the final question appears: Are you thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing? You thumb one of four options — No. Yes — something pleasant. Yes — something neutral. Yes — something unpleasant. More than two thousand people signed up to allow Matthew Killingsworth and Dan Gilbert of Harvard University to send them these messages at random times, roughly three times per day for a few weeks. People’s minds wander a lot: as the replies came pinging back, they gave the intriguing picture of 2,000 minds wandering roughly half the time. And here is the even stranger fact: it didn’t matter whether they were doing a really grungy home chore like cleaning the bathroom, or sipping cocktails on the sun-drenched deck of a yacht—minds were equally likely to wander to good, bad or neutral things whatever the activity. Not only that, but a wandering mind was almost always less happy than a mind focused on what it was doing—even if drudgery was being done! You might think—ah, but if I am sitting on a yacht, sipping a Manhattan while dolphin frolic under the gleaming white hull, how could my daydreams not make me happy. Wrong. People are no happier during pleasant daydreams than when their minds are focused on scrubbing the lavatory.

Wow! “People are no happier during pleasant daydreams than when their minds are focused on scrubbing the lavatory.”

Remember: A wandering mind is almost always a less happy mind than a mind focused on what it is doing. Do you have a passion project that can help you get into flow and focus your mind?

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