, Lifehack: http://www.lifehack.org/409574/study-finds-a-surprisingly-accurate-predictor-of-happiness
We all search for it and we may even spend money on the quest of
attaining happiness. Nowadays, you will find countless resources that
assert that happiness could be bought, found, etc.
However, a recent
study conducted at Harvard University finds several surprising and accurate predictors about happiness.
when we see friends enjoying their vacation we would think they must be
having a greater time than you sitting at home or working in the
office. What’s surprising is that the study suggests that it does not
matter exactly what you are doing that will predict happiness. According
to the data gathered from the Harvard study group, the specific way you
spend your day does not predict how happy you are. Rather, the
predictive element to happiness is matching your thoughts to your
action. To have a strong mental presence of what you are doing.
How The Study Was Done
order for the psychologists to study everyday happiness they had to
catch their subjects in the act of feeling good or the opposite, feeling
bad. Measuring the ingredients in a lab would be extremely difficult
and undeniably hard to measure.
In this study the psychologists
invested in a technique called experience sampling. Meaning, to
interrupt people at random intervals and ask them what they are doing
and what is on their mind. You can begin to assemble a specific portrait
about someone when you do this multiple times a day for several days at
The participants in the study were surveyed via an iPhone app.
The app would notify the participant to fill out out a quick
questionnaire. The questionnaire would ask what they were doing and if
they were thinking about what they were doing. If a participant answered
that they were not thinking about what they were doing they would
answer additional questions inquiring if what they were doing was
enjoyable, neutral or not enjoyable.
data gathered by the study reveals that we tend to be at our happiest
when we are thinking about what we’re doing. For example, a person who
is washing the dishes and thinking about washing the dishes is happier
than a person who is washing the dishes and thinking of a future
The Relationship between Focus and Happiness
discovered a large portion of our thoughts, approximately half, are not
related to what we are actually doing. Some may hope that a mind that
wanders like this would bring us to a happier state of being, but the
data gathered during the study suggests otherwise. Turns out, we are
happiest when our thoughts and actions are perfectly in line with one
another, even if it’s a simple task like taking the trash out.
The Prescription for Happiness
this sounds like an easy fix, but our mind tends to wander and it
happens that our minds are wired to wander from time to time. Our brains
prefer an arousal state of existence. If a task can be completed
without going into too much thought, our brain figure out a specific
ways to create an exciting alternative and send the mind wandering.
know that the mind can be trained to wander less? It takes practice and
dedication, but it can be done! You can engage in a meditation
practice, work on being mindfully present throughout your day and work
on being contentment.
you’re like most people and seek happiness, try practicing the art of
matching your thoughts to your action. Think about what you’re doing and
see how this impacts your overall happiness.