All of us want happiness. Up to now, there have been a lot of studies that look at what factors make us happy, and it has become apparent that happiness has a lot to do with our moment-to-moment experience. However, this is difficult to study. Matthew Killingsworth from Harvard University found a way of studying moment-to-moment happiness. In a TED Talk, he explains how.
He uses smart phones to track people’s happiness throughout the day. Participants can register at www.trackyourhappiness.org and will receive signals at random points throughout the day be asked questions on their moment-to-moment experience in the instant just before the signal. The purpose is to figure out which of the factors we encounter throughout the day have an impact on our moment-to-moment experience, such as the people we are with, the activities we engage in, and so on. Matt Killingsworth already has a hug sample of over 650,000 real-time reports from over 15,000 people from all over the world. Registration is free, and registered participants can track their own happiness.
One of his key findings is that being in the moment seems to make us happy. We are less happy when we let our minds wander, even when we are in the middle of an unpleasant activity such as being stuck in a traffic jam. But still, we let our minds wander almost 50% of the time on average. This study has also been published in the magazine Science.
If being in the present is so important for our happiness, what can we do in order to let our minds wander less? Mindfulness is the key here. Meditation, for example, is very helpful in improving one’s mindfulness and thus in increasing the number of positive emotions, as we reported in our post “How meditation can improve the quality of life”. Also, so-called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programmes are becoming increasingly popular and are offered in many cities. So there are many ways of improving our mindfulness – and if you like, keep track of your happiness by using www.trackyourhappiness.org. And we would be happy about your sharing of experiences, either by leaving a comment or via email to cute.scienceblog (at) googlemail.com or via our Facebook page.