not all minds that wander are lost.

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after reading this research i now see why i am happy most of the time-

i am an idle mind-wanderer.

it’s my best sport. 

Research suggests that people with freely moving thoughts are happier.

“Sometimes you just want to let your mind go free,” says Julia Kam, a cognitive neuroscientist who directs the Internal Attention Lab at the University of Calgary. Kam became interested in her subject 15 years ago as an undergraduate struggling with her own distracted thoughts during lectures. “I came into the field wanting to find a cure,” she says. But the deeper she got into research, the more she came to appreciate the freedom of an unfocused mind. “When your thoughts are just jumping from one topic to the next without an overarching theme or goal, that can be very liberating,” she says.

Researchers have found that people spend up to 50 percent of their time mind-wandering. Some internal thinking can be detrimental, especially the churning, ruminative sort often associated with depression and anxiety. Try instead to cultivate what psychologists call freely moving thoughts. Such nimble thinking might start with a yearning to see your grandmother, then careen to that feeling you get when looking down at clouds from an airplane, and then suddenly you’re pondering how deep you’d have to bore into the earth below your feet before you hit magma. Research suggests that people who do more of that type of mind-wandering are happier.

Facilitate unconstrained thinking by engaging in an easy, repetitive activity like walking; avoid it during riskier undertakings like driving. You’ll find it harder to go free-ranging if you’re myopically worried about something in your personal life, like an illness or an argument with a spouse.

For a recent study, Kam hooked subjects up for an electroencephalogram and then had them do a mundane task on a keyboard while periodically asking them about their thoughts. She was able to see, for the first time, a distinct neural marker for freely moving thoughts, which caused an increase in alpha waves in the brain’s frontal cortex. This is the same region where scientists see alpha waves in people doing creative problem-solving. We live in a culture that values work and productivity over almost everything else, but remember, your mind is yours. Make space to think in idle ways unrelated to tasks. “It can replenish you,” Kam says.

 

“i was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.”

-steven wright

 

credits: nytimes/sunday magazine, ‘how to let your mind wander’- malia wollan , university of calgary

95 responses »

  1. I totally relate to this and I had no idea! I’m feeling so validated right now, and like I should take more days off work just to walk and let my brain wander. It’s necessary, not just indulgent, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a window right next to my desk, and I find my mind wandering to the outside, watching the people come in and out of the hospital. It is very rejuvenating, especially since I spend so much time these days staring at a computer screen.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your posts always have such intriguing themes! I’m a lost mind, living in my own world (similar to most teenagers today, Ig). My world is definitely the most liberating one to be in. Everyone knows me there! 😀😉 And then there’s the world common people live in 😕 People have to repeat an instruction 10x to me because my world is a long way away from this one and it takes time to return 😅
    PS: Sorry, that was rather long. I got rather carried away 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YOU READ MY MIND! lol I was complaining to my girlfriends the other day about my wandering mind at night… And how I’ve had trouble shutting it off and it keeps me awake but it’s not like I’m in anxious territory… It’s more like curious minds!

    This is an example of how my mind works at night… Why is it hot, I wonder if the AC is no good… Gotta check the setting tmr.. I wonder how ACs actually work.. Do they blow air up or does it go downward, does heat work the same way.. Wonder how long this heat will last, do I have enough summer clothing options, Old Navy had great sales that last time, oh man speaking of Old Navy would be nice to go next time I’m off, wonder if Sarah could go with me, oh I need to ask her about hand me down shoes for Jess, my goodness she has big feet, wonder if Char will have big feet like her dad, hope she doesn’t have my ugly feet, ugh they are still causing me pain.. Wonder how much is left on my benefit for orthodics, do I need them for every shoe???!

    😂🤣 Although I doubt this study was talking about this type of mind wandering which doesn’t seem very productive if it’s keeping me up at night??

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some of my best thoughts come when I’m daydreaming. I used to be unable to turn off my mind at the end of the day, even when I was tired. That is not nearly as big a problem for me now. I think this is another benefit of stress reduction.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this! Validated at last. I’m normally a very happy person in spite of what’s going on in life. I often say my mind has wandered off unattended and I’m uncertain when or if it will return. Julia Cameron is a big believer in morning pages of free writing to let the mind wander on the page. It gets the junk out and lets the creativity flow. There is usually a little nugget in the meandering mind. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes! I think we teachers of young children are the best at understanding this and supporting children’s natural distractions. A high school teacher here begged for bar stools and high tables instead of desks, so kids could stand or sit, and have more freedom to be distracted. Her class excelled!

    Liked by 1 person

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