A wandering mind is an unhappy mind?

New research from Harvard suggests that:

People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.

Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects’ mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness.

“Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to ‘be here now,’” Killingsworth and Gilbert note in Science. “These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

Check it out on a Web site called Track Your Happiness.org; they used an iPhone app to track people’s happiness and activities in real-time.

Mindfulness and meditation may help us stay focused and positive.  Less daydreaming and ruminating might reduce stress-related overeating.  I keep a daily gratitude list to be in touch with positive things in my life.  How do you stay positive?

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth (right) and Daniel T. Gilbert (left) used a special "track your happiness" iPhone app to gather research. The results: We spend at least half our time thinking about something other than our immediate surroundings, and most of this daydreaming doesn't make us happy.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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