Have you heard about the iPhone app trackyourhappiness? Researchers from Harvard have used this app to investigate what makes us happy. The results tie in nicely with what I’ve been writing about mindfulness; being present in the moment is linked to feeling happy.
Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times describes the findings:
Researchers found people spend about 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing and that mind-wandering was linked to feel unhappy. Using time-lag analysis, the researchers concluded that mind-wandering was typically the cause, not the result, of unhappiness. The participants were least happy when they were resting, working or at home using a computer. They were happiest when they were making love, exercising or engaging in conversation. What people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than what they were doing.
This research illustrates how powerful our self-talk is! No matter what we are doing, our inner chatter can take us out of the moment and impact how we feel. I think these findings also raise interesting questions about dissociation. While it helps prevent pain does it also prevent you from experiencing happiness? What do you think?
You can read the article in full at Science (requires purchase), abstracted below:
A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind
Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert
We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.
Science 12 November 2010:
Vol. 330 no. 6006 p. 932
Even without an Iphone you can participate in Track Your Happiness. It is informative and fun, if you like that sort of tech and self-monitoring thing!