“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind” - Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert
This is Part II to my previous post, ‘Science Agrees: Being in the Present Moment is a Strong Predictor for Happiness’
In part I I shared about a landmark 2010 study that looked at the relationship between wandering thoughts and happiness. If you haven’t read that post I highly recommend you go check it out.
Those of you familiar with my work know that I am a huge advocate for self awareness and the power of our thoughts. Today I am highlighting another indicator for happiness as stated in the article. It reads,
“what people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than what they were doing.”
Let’s break this down.
What people think is a greater predictor of happiness than what they are doing. This indicates that it is the state, the quality of the mind that will determine happiness, regardless of where you are or what you are engaged in physically.
We see this evidenced in the tragic stories of the rich and famous, where regardless of their accumulation of wealth and beautiful surroundings, they still struggle with finding happiness. Have you ever met a person that seemed to ‘have it all’ yet their demeanor was one of ungratefulness, rudeness, and dissatisfaction? You ask yourself, jeez, how can they be so miserable when they have what other people dream of? Meanwhile we met people with far less than us that live in utter joy and gratitude for what they have.
It is their mental state. Their thoughts. The quality of their thoughts.
Two key words I want you to pick up on here are ungrateful and grateful. A person who is able to train themselves to think thoughts geared towards gratitude, and cultivate those thoughts into a feeling of gratitude, are far more likely to not only be happy but to also be healthy! Recent findings have proven the positive effects of gratitude on the immune system, however that is a completely separate study and so, I will devote another post to it.
Your thoughts have the power to shape your reality. They create the filter and feelings through which you experience the world, through which you experience your life. It is your responsibility to become aware of your thoughts, to understand the nature of your thoughts, and to investigate the beliefs that drive those thoughts.
How does this tie into being present, and how presence is an indicator for happiness? Being in the present moment provides a more coherent and efficient allocation of energy. Being in the present moment allows for more mental clarity, emotional stability, and creative inspiration to name a few. If you are present and fully engaged with what you are doing, you are not ruminating on the past, nor are you anxious about the future, you simply are; and in simply being, you find yourself in a space of acceptance and peace.
As a side note, this isn't to encourage 'toxic positivity' which is spiritual and emotional bypassing masked as positive thinking. The low thoughts will come, it's about whether you engage them, and how long you engage them for. Remember, you have to investigate your thoughts and the beliefs they are tied to.