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We all want to be happy, and there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there when it comes to pursuing this all-important goal. In addition, although the last few decades have seen impressive advancements in technology and longevity, it doesn’t seem as though humans have obviously become happier as a result.
To start gathering scientific data to support or disprove common hypotheses about what really makes people feel happy, Matt Killingsworth created an ingenious app. This app—called “Track Your Happiness”—invited its users to log their feelings in response to their environments and experiences, and Killingsworth then sorted through the data to find the most significant patterns. In fact, he received more than 650,000 real-time reports from more than 15,000 people, with participants ranging from 18-80 in age and spanning a huge range of lifestyles.
As you’ll see, one of the crucial messages to take away from Killingsworth’s investigation and subsequent presentation is that being lost in the moment may well be the key to enjoying life to the greatest extent. In contrast, if we let our minds wander away from present experiences, we’re typically much less happy—even if present experiences are relatively mundane.
He explains more about what constitutes mind-wandering, and he’ll help you understand why it might have this markedly detrimental influence on overall happiness. His data lends credence to the popular idea that mindfulness and other practices that firmly anchor us in the present are not just good for our intellectual abilities but are also doing something significant for our mental health.
As Killingsworth’s work with the “Track Your Happiness” app continues, he hopes to learn even more about what makes a life enjoyable and fulfilled. Ultimately, he aims to create a future that’s both healthier and happier—so keep an eye out for future results from his experiment.