Unlike other animals, human beings spend a lot of time thinking about what is not going on around them, contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or will never happen at all.
Buddhism attributes the root of suffering to the never ending pointless pursuit of transient feel good factor, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure. it is not content, because this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify.
The mind keeps wandering from place to place in search of happiness. The magic of our minds is often lost in the mundane details of our daily routines, but the remarkable flexibility of our mental lives remains. Our minds may be directed toward the task at hand—they may be “here” as we concentrate on our daily commute or focus on the contents of a meeting or conversation. There may be times when our minds are blank.
First, people’s minds wandered frequently, regardless of what they were doing. Mind wandering occurred in 46.9% of the samples and in at least
30% of the samples taken during every activity except making love. The frequency of mind wandering in our real-world sample was considerably higher than is typically seen in laboratory experiments. Surprisingly, the nature of people’s activities had only a modest impact on whether their
minds wandered and had almost no impact on the pleasantness of the topics to which their minds wandered
Second, multilevel regression revealed that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were not.
Third, what people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than was what they were doing.
The human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening
is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.
Mindfulness helps in managing negative thoughts and focus attention on the work in hand. This also prevents distractions. That embarrassing recollection or moment of self-doubt may not disappear from your thoughts. Research, however, suggests mindfulness gives you the ability to more readily identify the negative thoughts and exit the merry-go-round that often follows from focusing on negativity.
This research corresponds in practice with what is seen by Katie Krimer, M.A., L.M.S.W., a psychotherapist and social worker in New York City. Krimer says, “When we practice mindfulness, whether through meditation or other activities, the goal is never to rid of negative thoughts or banish anxiety. Instead, the intention of practice is to become more aware with things the way that they are. So much of our anxiety and negative thinking is sustained by our resistance [to] the uncomfortable experience.”