Why Mind Wandering Doesn’t Make You Happier & What To Do Instead
Then, after the study, participants were asked what they were doing, whether their mind was wandering, and the nature of the subject they were thinking about. Had their minds wandered to a “pleasant” subject, a “neutral” one, or an “unpleasant” one?
The researchers found that about half the time, people’s minds wandered to a pleasant topic. In those instances, the study participants described themselves as being no happier or less happy than when they were not experiencing mind wandering.
Meanwhile, the other half of the time (on average), study participants described their minds as wandering to a neutral or unpleasant subject. In either case, those people were unhappy.
“In conclusion,” the researchers wrote, “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”