Lately, I’ve found my mind roaming places it has no business being.
It’s either lost in regret or in daydreams. I find myself replaying certain scenes with friends, colleagues and family- to retrace what I could have done differently. I go over every break up, combing through the details with a tailcomb, splitting every strand to its side. But mainly, my examining like most women fills my mind with thoughts and empties me from the present.
We all suffer from a wandering mind. However, I find that it’s my girlfriends who are the ones who allow themselves to live in that space. We spend time dwelling on what we wish we could do differently, other ways we hope our situation will turn out. So much so that we bring to life Zora’s quote. You know the one:
Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
While being hopeful is not some kind of gender fail, as women we often suffer the consequences of our wandering minds. The price? Our happiness.
The latest study on happiness out of Harvard Medical School, suggests that the more we allow our minds to roam, the less happy we become. Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert looked at levels of happiness amongst respondents while they went about their daily duties.
The researchers asked respondents three questions:
1. How are you feeling right now
2. What are you doing right now?
3. Are you currently thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing?
So what was in those three questions? Well, the first one allowed researchers to measure emotional awareness. The second our understanding of and engagement with the tasks at hand. The third question found out where our minds would rather have us be.
The results of the study: people reported feeling less happy when their minds wandered than when they didn’t — even when what they had to do wasn’t enjoyable. The reason? As the mind wandered into thoughts unrelated to what needed to be done- whether positive or negative, those thoughts caused additional stress about the task at hand.
What lives in our minds can often affect how we experience our lives. Whether we are escaping to better times or drifting into moments we know we shouldn’t relive, we are pulling ourselves from the present into a place that though safe, is not permanent. We have to return from those thoughts eventually. We have to admit that our dream is not the truth.
That return trip can be taxing on the spirit and wear out the soul. So today despite the inkling to escape, choose to remain in the present. Ask yourself the three questions and then ask yourself why. Because as it turns out, for a woman to truly be happy and free- she has to tame her wondering mind.