Did you know that, on average, humans spend 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing? That’s right. 47 percent of the time, you’re thinking about something other than what you’re actually doing. You’re in a meeting, thinking about the conversation you had last night. You’re sitting in traffic, thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner. You’re watching TV, but you’re thinking about the workout you don’t want to do tomorrow.
We call this habit mind wandering. Thinking about something other than what you’re doing. While it might seem like a small and harmless habit, it’s not. It’s incredibly damaging for both your health and happiness. Watch below for the full scoop on mind wandering, why it’s so dangerous, and the simple thing you can do about it!
Mind wandering is associated with lower levels of happiness. And you’ll probably be surprised to know that how often your mind wanders and leaves the present moment is a better predictor of your happiness than the activities you do. So that means that it’s less important what you’re doing, and it’s more important that you’re actually focusing on what you’re doing at the moment. This is true even when you’re doing an unpleasant task, such as dishes or sitting in traffic. Your happiness will be greater if you focus on doing the dishes, rather than thinking back to that beach vacation you took last year.
Ok, so if mind wandering isn’t the answer, then what is?
The answer is simple. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the opposite of mind wandering, and it’s absolutely critical for your happiness and wellbeing. I talk about mindfulness a lot. And I promise you, it’s simpler than you think. It isn’t about sitting cross legged on the floor or meditating for hours on end. Mindfulness just means focusing your attention on the present moment with an open and nonjudgmental attitude. Mindfulness means focusing your attention on what you’re doing right now.
So when you’re mind wanders off in a meeting, thinking about dinner, redirect your attention. When your attention drifts off during a conversation, bring it back to the person in front of you. When your attention goes to something that’s happening tomorrow, guide your attention back to what’s happening right now.
It’s not about never having your mind wander. You’re a human, that’s totally normal. The key is that when your mind wanders, you notice that you’ve wandered, and you bring your attention back to what you’re doing. That’s it. Over and over. Notice that you’ve wandered, and bring your attention back.
Mind wandering may be an unconscious habit, but don’t for a second think it’s harmless. Practice being present. Focus on what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. Your happiness and wellbeing will thank you!
PS: Looking for a few quick ways to train your brain? Check out this post, as well as this fun and quick video.