According to research by Matthew A. Killingsworth a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society scholar, and Harvard psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert we spend 46.7 percent of each day thinking about something other than what we’re doing.
Being present has been shown to have tremendous impact on our mental health through years of scientific studies. Research has shown one of the biggest predictors of happiness stems from our ability to remain focused on what is occurring in front of us.
A study done by Harvard University followed 2,250 volunteers throughout their day. Participants were contacted at random times and monitored their thoughts and feelings during daily activities. They were then asked to rate their happiness on a scale from zero to one-hundred. The study found volunteers felt the unhappiest while doing activities such as working, resting, or using a home computer. Researchers concluded that these moments were when participants let their mind drift off. Participants said it was not the specific activity that made them unhappy, but rather the amount of times they let their minds wander.
“The team concluded that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.”
A technique that has been recommended to those struggling with becoming present is called temporal awareness. This involves reminding ourselves that moments will come to an end. This tends to trigger awareness and therefore increase our enjoyment of the present moment.
Remaining present all the time is a difficult habit to pick up, but you can use mindfulness practices to improve your behavior. At CARAVAN we have practices to help you create a greater degree of focus and direction in your life. Click here to try our Daily Mindfulness Series.
Sample, Ian. “Living in the Moment Really Does Make People Happier.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Nov. 2010