November 11, 2010
by Jon Krause
From “Happiness is a Focused Mind” (BusinessWeek)
New research from Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard, shows that when people’s minds drifted from the task or activity at hand, they reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in whatever they were doing. (Apparently Harvard also has a happiness tracking project going on: trackyourhappiness.org)
The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering — that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human, he noted.Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they’re doing, they feel less happy, the researchers discovered. “Human beings seem to have this unique capacity to focus on the non-present. They have the ability to reflect on the past, plan for the future and imagine things that might never occur,” Killingsworth said. “But at the same time, human beings are clumsy users of this capacity and it tends to decrease, rather than increase, happiness.”
According to the study, the participants reported being the happiest when making love, exercising or conversing. They said they were least happy when resting or sleeping, working or using a home computer.
hmmm….this article makes me wonder if my mind wanders a little too much. I saw my regular psychiatrist (as opposed to the one for ECT) today, and she did say to me that I do better if I have things to do, in a structured manner. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve started keeping a daily checklist of things-to-do. But does this study mean that introspection isn’t always a good thing? If this wandering of the mind leads to activities like writing a journal/blog entry, have I negated this unhappiness factor and converted it into a happiness-making one?
June 2, 2010
There’s a New York Times article that talks about a large Gallup poll that has found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older, and researchers are not sure why. The article ends with the line: “For people under 50 who may sometimes feel gloomy, there may be consolation here. The view seems a bit bleak right now, but look at the bright side: you are getting old.”
February 18, 2010
Didn’t we know this already without someone doing a scientific study on it?
Study: Happiness Good for the Heart.
The problem is that it’s not as if people who are depressed are choosing to be unhappy. Of course, we’d rather not be more susceptible to heart disease! This article lists ways for ‘negative people’ to become more positive, including:
- Express gratitude on a regular basis.
- Practice being optimistic.
- Engage in frequent acts of kindness.
- Visualize one’s best self.
- Savor joyful events.
- Practice forgiveness.
I wish becoming a happy person was as easy as following a few simple directions.
February 24, 2009
I really can’t believe I didn’t remember that I had actually already bought these Christmas stocking hangers from Potterybarn when I went there a few weeks ago. Or how many times I had asked certain questions to my mother and sister in the time around the treatments. I kind of now wonder if the reason why I think I may be happier is because I’ve become quite a bit cognitively dumber…..okay, I’m joking a bit, but then again, I think I might be a bit serious.
It has been several days since my last treatment day, and I can openly say that I am a happier person. But I can also tell you that I don’t remember where the treatments took place nor can I recall the exact location upon looking up the physical address. I still have not regained my entire ability to speak Japanese, my very first language. Though I can understand what my mother is saying, I sometimes cannot respond to her in the language that I would like to respond. Sometime, my response come out garbled, between that of some Europeanized version of the Japanese language. If I performed a certain task within weeks prior to the treatments, it may as well be like never remembering doing those tasks at all. For example, I know I went to see Dr. J at his office, but I have absolutely no clue where that office is located. I seriously asked my sister what happened to Capt. Sullenberger’s airplane that got him so much attention (okay, the geese…..).
My goal for the next week or so is to explore what is going on within me as I try to put myself together post-ECT. I first need to watch President Obama’s address to the Congress. ..There’s more to write out so please bear with this little blog as I hope to look at what it is that I actually accomplished by going through this procedure.