This Habit May Separate Happy & Unhappy People

Take a minute to consider these four scenarios. Which do you think would make you happiest?
  1. Ironing a shirt and thinking about ironing the shirt.
  2. Ironing a shirt and thinking about a sunny getaway.
  3. Visiting the Louvre, standing before a Monet, and letting yourself be drawn in by its beauty.
  4. Visiting the Louvre, standing before a Monet, and trying to figure out what restaurant to try for dinner.
You might be surprised to learn, research backs numbers one and three.
Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert have uncovered compelling evidence that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. We’re happiest when thought and action are aligned, even if they’re aligned to iron a shirt.
Their research team developed a smartphone app to facilitate "experience sampling." Meaning, at random times throughout the day, a participant’s smartphone would chime and present him with a brief questionnaire that asked how happy he was, what he was doing, and whether he was thinking about what he was doing.
Published in Science, September 29, 2010, the study explains:
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.
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