Mind-wandering may be the cause of your unhappiness

Mind-wandering may be the cause of your unhappiness

So many things going on.

So much to do; and so much to worry about.

I know I’m supposed to be working on something but …

Do you ever struggle to focus? To concentrate on what’s really important?

Do you find that depressing? Or is it all caused by depression?

If you can relate to any of this then read on to learn more and to find out what you can do to enjoy more happiness ….

via Big Think by Kevin Dickinson

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Our minds seem to wander to escape unpleasant emotions. 
  • But some studies suggest that mind-wandering isn’t a consequence of our unhappiness; it’s the cause.  
  • Learning to strengthen our attentional systems can help us keep our minds in the present moment.

Your mind is a wanderer, and it’s not alone. As many as 96% of Americans claim to experience mind-wandering daily, and studies have shown the habit to be common across cultures. So common that some have theorized it to be the brain’s default process.

If that’s the case, then why is mind-wandering so strongly associated with unhappy experiences? Think about it: You flee a boring college lecture by escaping into a favorite daydream. You avoid a stressful project by planning your weekend getaway. And you zone out when a friend raises that all-too-familiar argument. 

Whether the consequence of boredom, stress, anger, or a host of other alienating emotions, our minds seem to wander to escape the unpleasant. Of course, such escapism rarely solves the task or problem at hand, leaving us more despondent when we return from our mental travels.

But according to some research, this understanding of mind-wandering has it backwards. Your mind-wandering isn’t your attempt to sidestep unhappy experiences. It’s the cause of your unhappiness.

In search of wandering minds

“My research is driven by the idea that happiness may have more to do with the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences than with the major conditions of our lives,” Killingsworth wrote in Greater Good Magazine. “It certainly seems that fleeting aspects of our everyday lives — such as what we’re doing, who we’re with, and what we’re thinking about — have a big influence on our happiness, and yet these are the very factors that have been most difficult for scientists to study.”

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In a 2010 Science paper, psychologist Matthew Killingsworth — then a doctoral student at Daniel Gilbert’s happiness lab at Harvard University — sought to determine the emotional consequences of mind-wandering in everyday life.

The study had participants download a phone app that would ping them randomly throughout the day to ask questions like “How are you feeling?” and “What are you doing right now?” Activities included options such as working, walking, eating, praying, talking, playing, and doing nothing special.

To better understand mind-wandering, the researchers assigned 2,250 participants a mindfulness question: “Are you thinking about something other than what you’re doing?” If a participant answered yes, they could also select whether their task-irrelevant thoughts were pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE