How Can I Be Happy? Live in The Moment, says Harvard Research
Posted on April 28, 2013 by admin
A widely quoted study by two Harvard University researchers suggests that people’s minds are wandering almost half the time and that the wandering mind is usually an unhappy mind.
The researchers set out to track just how focused people’s minds were on the present, using an Internet-based cell phone application. They contacted 2,250 volunteers at random intervals, collecting 250,000 different data points. They asked what people were currently doing and whether they were thinking about their current activity or about something else. If someone’s mind was not on the task at hand, they were also asked whether it was dwelling on something pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
The volunteers were given a choice of 22 different general activities to describe what they were doing at the time they were called.
- The volunteers’ minds were on something other than their current activity 46.9% of the time. And those whose minds were elsewhere were generally unhappiest.
- The happiest people were those who were making love, exercising or engaged in conversation. The unhappiest people were those who were working, using a home computer or resting.
- Time-lag analysis suggested that the wandering mind was usually the cause, not the consequence, of the subject’s unhappiness. The researchers found that only 4.6% of the degree happiness was due to the activity the subject was engaged in, but 10.8% of their happiness could be attributed to whether or not their mind was wandering at the time.
- For every activity on the list except one, people reported wandering minds at least 30% of the time. The exception was people who were making love.
The researchers interpret these findings to mean that living in the moment is the key to happiness. Those most focused on the present are happiest.
They point to the wide range of occupations, socioeconomic backgrounds and ages (18-88) of the volunteers under study as evidence of the generality of their findings.