Mindfulness is a common word these days – with many people looking to reduce stress. What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is paying attention to every moment in whatever activities we are doing from working, eating, talking to exercising. What exactly is paying attention to the present moment in our activities? Most of us think we know what we are doing because we made a choice before we engage in an activity. But when we engage in that activity, our minds would be onto the next activity. Now we know what is mindfulness, let’s look at the effects mind wandering has on our well-being.
What causes us to constantly think of the next thing and the next thing? It’s the opposite mind state of mindfulness, which is mind wandering. Mind-wandering is one of our favorite activities to get away from being alone and the activities that we find mundane.
In a Harvard research, it was found that people’s mind wanders about 47 per cent of the time in every activity that they do. These activities range from brushing teeth, exercising, working, showering to even sex. Sex is the only activity that causes about 10 per cent of mind wandering, lower than the other activities which we engage in.
The research also discovered that mind wandering precedes unhappiness and unhappiness does not precede mind wandering. Most of the time, our mind wandering indulges in unpleasant thoughts such as worries, anxieties and the things we dislike. This is due to evolutionary conditioning where being negative and having fear helped us survive the dangers in nature as hunter gatherers to tribal invasions in the past. However, it was found that neutral and pleasant thoughts during mind wandering did not contribute to happiness at all. Mind wandering in any form causes unhappiness.
One of the most effective ways towards happiness is to reduce or to stop mind wandering. The way to do this is the ancient practice of meditation. Meditation has been shown in the experience of many who practices it to calm the mind by stopping non-stop uncontrollable mind wandering.
Meditation supports the practice of Mindfulness. Check out our online mindfulness course with one of our instructors live to learn sustained well-being.