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Are you mentally checked out?
A new study by Daniel Gilbert—author of Stumbling on Happiness—and Matthew Killingsworth, confirms something we’ve all suspected: most of us are ‘mentally checked out’ a good portion of the time.
We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.
The results indicate we’re checked out about half the time as our mind wanders. The study was designed to find out what kind of activities people did throughout a day, and which made them happiest. Mindwandering was just one of 22 possible activities people could list.
Researchers found that people were at their happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.