Wandering thoughts make you unhappy: US psychologists find negative effects of wandering thoughts. 50 percent of people are not mentally involved.
People who digress when they are employed are more dissatisfied and often unhappy. The digressing is not the result but the cause of dissatisfaction, according to a study by Harvard University.
Half of the time, people are absent-minded. US psychologists from the University of Harvard used a specially programmed app to question 2,250 iPhone users about their activity, their satisfaction and their mental presence at different times of the day. The researchers have published their surprising result in the current issue of the scientific journal Science. Accordingly, the test subjects were not only mentally absent half of the time, but the mental wandering also made them unhappy.
Yoga for concentration on the moment In Far Eastern philosophy, concentration on the moment has always played a special role. Meditation, yoga and tai chi exercises help people to concentrate more on the moment and underline the positive effects on body and mind. With their publications in the scientific journal "Science", the US psychologists support this positive effect of the mental presence or the concentration on the moment. Because they have not only found that many people are not concentrating on their current activity, but that the mental digressions also make them unhappy.
iPhone app helps with the psychological study With the help of software specially developed for the iPhone, the researchers at Harvard University were able to question the 2,250 study participants several times a day about their ability to concentrate, their activity and their perceived satisfaction. The scientists found that 47 percent of the test subjects were not thinking about their current occupation, with hardly any differences between activities that were pleasant and uncomfortable. Regardless of whether they were watching TV, shopping, eating or going for a walk, almost half of the test subjects were never at it.
Achievement of the Mind with Dark Sides One of the qualities that distinguishes us humans from most other living things is the ability of Homo sapiens to think about the past and the future or simply let your imagination run wild. While this achievement of the mind is crucial for the planning of the future, the scientists have uncovered the dark side of our extraordinary intellectual power. Because that much brooding makes us unhappy and we pay a high emotional price. Matthew Killingsworth, author of the "Science" article, emphasized that their results found that "wandering thoughts (...) are an excellent indicator of people's satisfaction". According to the scientists, the mental presence is "more important for satisfaction than the things we are doing."
"A wandering mind is an unhappy mind" "Mental wandering seems to occur in all activities," said Killingsworth, and "our mental life is remarkably steeped in the non-present." However, according to the study results, this is not particularly beneficial for our emotional satisfaction . Because, contrary to what you might think, the mental digression is not the result of dissatisfaction, but rather the cause, according to the scientists. "Many philosophical and religious traditions already teach that satisfaction can only be found at the moment," the authors said. If people are mentally out of tune, they tend to feel unhappy, because "the human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind", so the conclusion of the US psychologists in the current "Science" article. (fp, 11/12/2010)