*like, now. Right now. Now. Stop what you’re doing, and concentrate on this one thing.
I’m imagining, mostly because your need for discovery adds great value to this blog and therefore your Sunday, that you’re familiar with a bit of mind-wandering, and you’re desperate to discover the techniques for preventing it to feel being in the now. I, mainly, wanted to know how to stop planning my every next move and enjoy the move that I just made.
I realised this annoying habit of mind-wandering as I reached a dull moment in Fates and Furies (which is actually rare in this brilliant book, FYI, if you’re after your next recommended read), and my mind went straight to the supermarket. I started to imagine all the meats I could buy to make a spectacular New Zealand BBQ. Mmmmm BBQ’d lamb. Tiny little lamb in the luscious green fields bouncing around happily. No lamb. Steak it is with a mound of halloumi in a salad. Poor pretty cow. Argh, now I have to read that dull paragraph again. #MindWander
I listened to scientist Matt Killingsworth discuss the relationship between happiness and mind-wandering on the TED stage. He said, as “human beings we have this unique ability to have our minds stray away from the present […]. You can go anywhere in your minds”. It is an amazing ability which no other species of animal can do #WeAreWinners.
However, as outstanding as this ability is, he studied 650,000 reports on this relationship, which were produced as a result of a study on 15,000 people, and found that people were less happy when their minds wandered off away from this present moment.
This is because mind-wandering takes us to “unpleasant things; our worries, our anxieties, our regrets. Even when people are thinking about something neutral, they’re still considerably less happy than when they’re not mind wandering at all.”
Familiarly, he says that “people don’t really like commuting to work very much, and yet they’re substantially happier when they’re focused on their commute than when their mind is going off to something else.”
What. A. Revelation. I thought that if I let my mind wander off to an abyss of list making and happy thoughts during these boring commutes I would be better off. Wrong! No more train journeys mind-wandering – I will practice being fully there in that carriage just as you can in your car.
He even discovered that, on average, 10% of the time people’s minds are wandering when they’re having sex! How could it be wandering anywhere in these moments of wild seduction… perhaps to food?! The only logical wander.
Are you now realising that you’ve been thinking of something else while reading this? Perhaps you’re wondering what you’re going to do next, or what you’ll do on your Sunday afternoon (after reading Sunday Edits, of course, over and over again until you stop your mind from wondering)? Well, fear no more. Simply follow this formula that, sensing the greater good in sharing Matt’s findings with you, I put down on paper. Made it official.
He claims that you just have to a) notice where your attention is, b) bring your attention back to now, and c) practice.
You’re probably going to consciously catch yourself mind-wandering all day and bringing your thoughts back to the now… I would LOVE to know if this mind-wandering practice has helped you, or perhaps you think mind-wandering is bollocks. I would like to know that, too.
My aim with this is to be fully present at every moment during my wedding and beyond. I have given myself 5 months to transform my mind-wandering, as if it’s true what Matt says we should be able to enjoy every single one of life’s experiences by simply being present here and now! This will be quite the challenge for my ADD brain.
So here goes…
Listen to the TED Talk here.