Happiness and Presence: The Price of a Wandering Mind
Is anybody home in there? Happiness and Being Present
How many times have I looked out at the gray and rainy Portland landscape wishing for a vacation someplace sunny? Today, I’m reminding myself that I’m actually happier if I just enjoy the moment in all its drizzling glory.
Harvard psychologist Dr. Daniel Gilbert, studied over 2200 volunteers around the world measuring 3 things: what they were doing, what they were thinking about and how happy they were. The resulting book, Stumbling on Happiness, reveals some surprising news.
Turns out you are most happy when your attention is on what you are doing — even if it isn’t something you would deem ‘fun’. You’re happier focusing on the unique beauty of the Pacific Northwest than when you’re on that great vacation thinking about what’s happening at home.
“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Gilbert writes. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
So paying attention really does pay off; being fully present makes you happier than worrying about the future or mulling over the past. Besides, there’s only one moment like this one…why would I want to miss it?