Do you sometimes find your mind wandering? Do you lie awake at night, thinking about things that happened long ago, and how tomorrow will unfold? Don’t feel alone. Research has found that most of us experience that at some point. In fact, the average mind is wandering 47% of the time, including while you’re talking to other people, cooking dinner, reading, eating, watching television and when you’re having sex.
Matthew Killingsworth, former Harvard-trained psychologist believes that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. To him, living in the moment is not a cliche, but a key to happiness. He believes that the constant obsession with past and contemplation about future events robs us of our ability to enjoy the current moment, especially since the mind tends to wander to the dark, unhappy places. However, Killingsworth recommends giving the mind sweet things to remember and exciting things to remember.
When you’re looking forward to an experience, more happiness is elicited, with none of the impatience that comes from waiting for a material possession. Remember the last time you were looking forward to a vacation or a concert? Now compare that to how you felt when you waited for a pre-ordered item to arrive. The reason is that we don’t measure the value of an experience by comparing it to that of possessions.
Researchers agree that our experiences are associated with social behavior, connection and identity, which is why experiences make us happier. And of course, when it comes to experiences, there are no cracked screens, out-of-warranty issues and other issues to cloud our appreciation as time goes on. Once an experience is captured, it won’t deteriorate – it remains the same, never becoming obsolete.
Perhaps it is the fleetingness of experiences that makes them so special. They are only around long enough to remain perfect. However, they leave sweet memories and stories that help us relive them over and over again. Often, even experiences that were not that great at the time, become good stories of survival, endurance and overcoming the odds.
In comments, please tell us your best experience story. We’d love to hear about it!
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