Living in the moment really does make people happier (or A Wandering Mind Is An Unhappy Mind)
[I was given this article, found in the December 2010 issue of Therapy Today, link, reporting on an article in The Guardian, reporting on an article that appeared in the journal, Science!]
Happiness is found by living in the now, particularly if the now involves having sex, according to a major study into mental wellbeing. But the study also found that people spend nearly half their time (46.7 per cent) thinking about something other than what they are actually doing.
Psychologists at Harvard University collected information on the daily activities, thoughts and feelings of 2,250 volunteers to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy. They found that people were happiest when having sex, exercising or in conversation, and least happy when working, resting or using a home computer. And although subjects’ minds were wandering nearly half of the time, this consistently made them less happy. The team conclude that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.
The authors write in the journal Science: ‘A human mind is a wandering mind and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.‘ (See link)
Asked why people seemed to be particularly focused during sex, Matthew Killingsworth, lead author of the study, observed: ‘Sex is one of the few broad categories of activity that requires and perhaps benefits from our full attention.’
More than 5,000 people have signed up for the happiness study. You can take part in the study at: www.trackyourhappiness.org (The Guardian)