We are happiest when we are living in the moment. But researchers say we spend nearly half of our waking hours thinking instead of being present. This constant thinking also makes us unhappy. “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” said psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University in their article to Science magazine.
Human beings are possessed with a remarkable mind. But the way most people use it is for mundane and negative thinking. When we are thinking, our thoughts are about things that happen in the past, things that might happen in the future or things that will never happen. All of this thinking makes us unhappy.
When we are constantly thinking about past and future events, we are not living in the present. This mind wandering not only makes us unhappy but can rob us of the joy of being focused on what is happening now. “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
Below is a TED talk from Matt Killingsworth that is worth watching.