Scientist Matt Killingsworth says we've been lucking out like crazy this last century: More amenities, amazing technology, longer life expectancies thanks to advances in medicine...yet, collectively, we're still seemingly unhappy. Why?
Killingsworth asked the same question. So what did he do? He developed an iPhone app, of course.
Killingsworth's app, "Track Your Happiness," collected data from more than 15,000 people from highly varied backgrounds in pursuit of the million-dollar question: What makes us happy?
From all of that data, one particular set of questions revealed Killingsworth's most significant finding:
How do you feel, on a scale ranging from very bad to very good?
What are you doing? (They could choose from 22 different activities, such as eating, working, etc.)
Are you thinking of something other than what you're doing?
From the answers to these questions, he discovered people are much less happy when they let their minds wander. When minds wander, they more often than not wander to worries and regrets.
The moral of this app experiment? To be happier, people need to focus on the moment.
You could look at this two ways. First, you could agree that when we allow our minds to wander, we are of course going to let our imaginations get the best of us and always assume the worst. (Think of John Candy's character Danny in "Only The Lonely." He'd let his mind wander, and would imagine his mother being hurt or killed in all of these horrible scenarios. Then, his guilt would get the best of him, and he'd prevent himself from doing things that made him happy.)
Or, you could argue that mind-wandering, or the better euphemism "day-dreaming," leads to happiness because it unlocks creativity and insight. Therefore, this whole experiment is ridiculous (as a number of people who commented on Killingsworth's TED talk felt) because our minds wander when we're unhappy in the first place.
Either way, this is an interesting use of technology. What do you think of Killingsworth's findings?