Why my battle to tame my wandering is a good one

A thought. I was reading the follow-up to a wellbeing study I’d heard about ages ago that uses a phone app to track real-time moments in happiness.

Image from serialthriller.com
Image from serialthriller.com

Psychologist Matthew Killingsworth who put the project together tracked daydreaming as well. And found this:

Daydreaming is not good for well-being.

Which surprised me, and it might you. But Matt drilled down:

Minds tend to wander to dark, not whimsical, places.

This stopped me for a bit. It’s true. The majority of my meanderings aren’t rosy, unless I consciously steer them that way. This is kind of sad, but I’m sure there’s an evolutionary (or otherwise) reason for it (spending spare mental time nutting out strategies for difficult situations can keep us prepared and vigilant).

The app study covered more than 650,000 real-time reports from more than 15,000 people. Big and broad. It also found people were a lot less happy when their minds are wandering than when they’re not. So, not a trifle result. Plus, mind-wandering proved to be far more predictive of happiness than other factors like income.

So Matt concludes, in part, that:

Minds are meant to be still.

Which is why the lifelong, tortured, angsty battle that is my daily meditation practice is worth it. It strengthens my ability to consciously steer my daydreaming away from the dark places. And in doing so it wanders back to stillness. Because that’s all that consciously steering is.

What’s your daydreaming doing for you? Do you agree minds wander?

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