Mental presence (matching thought to action) is a reliable predictor of happiness. So, we can predict that someone may be happier at home, scrubbing out a dirty pot, than sunning themselves on the deck of a luxury cruise ship and wishing they were seeing the northern lights.
Paul Deger's article "Predicting Happiness (or at Least the Cessation of Suffering)" posits that "we are capable of catching the causality that drives our suffering or happiness."
Putting aside the science, let's imagine some real-life situations and see if we draw similar conclusions.
You know how replaying an argument over and over in your mind can cause you to clench your teeth, and if you keep it up, you develop a headache? There are a few ways that this situation could play out:
You fall into auto-pilot mode.
"On auto-pilot, we miss the conditions and only recognize the negative outcome breaking through to awareness, making us feel as though we have little control of our current state." This is a dead-end path. You'll suffer the consequences.
You employ mindfulness to "invite an expanded awareness, to catch the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) initial conditions that drive us to suffering or happiness.
Now you can notice the jaw tense and the replay in your mind. This is the path that offers you a choice. "I can choose the old and familiar (such as jaw tensing) that drives suffering. Or I can "run the experiment" and practice a new choice (shift focus to breathing) and see if happiness may be found in this moment, after all