Wandering Minds, Cause of Unhappiness

Cartoon Mind Wandering image

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A study by Harvard Psychologists, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, revealed people spend 49.6 percent of their time daydreaming. That is, people spend half of their time mind wandering, disengaged, unpresent and ultimately unhappy because of it. Killingsworth’s study created an iPhone app that contacted 2,250 volunteers in random intervals, and asked them what they were currently doing, how happy they were, and whether they were thinking about their current activity or something else pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. The sample size of research participants included ages from 18 - 88, and people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the research, Killingsworth believes how often our minds tend to leave the present is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities we are engaged in. The study revealed 4.6 percent of a person’s happiness was influenced by the activity they were engaged  in, compared to a person's mind wandering, which accounted for 10.8 percent of a person's unhappiness. Therefore, research suggests our activities don’t influence our happiness nearly as much as our mindfulness during them. 

Contact:

Kenslow Smith
kenslowsmith@sandiego.edu
(619) 829-6002