A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind

  title={A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind},
  author={Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert},
  pages={932 - 932}
The iPhone Hap App reveals that wandering thoughts lead to unhappiness. We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy. 

On Being Mindful: What Do People Think They're Doing?

Thoughts are typically dismissed as sources of distraction that hinder a mindful awareness of ongoing experience. Although this may be said of some thoughts, we focus on the undervalued role that

Negative and Positive Mind-Wandering

Mind-wandering is considered by many as a sign of an “unhappy mind” and associated with ill-health. Since the mind wanders half of the time, it is unlikely that mind-wandering plays no role in

Study of the electroencephalographic correlates of mind wandering and meditation

Trying to focus our attention on any given physical or mental object, we soon re- alize it cannot be kept indefinitely focused and soon drifts towards other thoughts or sensations, a phenomenon

On-the-Spot Binaural Beats and Mindfulness Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering

The experience of a wandering mind is common for most people, and it has been estimated that mind wandering occupies up to 46% of our thoughts during the day. There are recent studies showing

Not all minds that wander are lost: the importance of a balanced perspective on the mind-wandering state

Two formal hypotheses are proposed that highlight task context and thought content as critical factors that constrain the Costs and benefits of self-generated thought and provide direction on ways to investigate the costs and benefits from an impartial perspective.

The brain on silent: mind wandering, mindful awareness, and states of mental tranquility

A theoretical analysis and plausible neurocognitive framework of the restful mind is presented, in which it is attempted to clarify potentially adaptive contributions of both mind wandering and mindful awareness through the lens of the extant neuroc cognitive literature on intrinsic network activity, meditation, and emerging descriptions of stillness and nonduality.

Is Shame Managed Through Mind-Wandering?

The results demonstrated that participants in the shame condition did not differ from those in the pride and control conditions in terms of mind-wandering, and participants who had initially scored higher on trait shame (i.e., suffered from chronic shame) reported a significantly higher frequency ofMind-Wandering.

Mind Wandering in Chinese Daily Lives – An Experience Sampling Study

The results showed that mind wandering was also a ubiquitous experience among the Chinese population, and, instead of emerging out of nowhere, it was often elicited by external or internal cues.

Unraveling What’s on Our Minds: How Different Types of Mind- Wandering Affect Cognition and Behavior

Mindwandering encompasses a variety of different types of thought, involving various different experiential qualities, emotions, and cognitive processes. Much is lost by simply lumping them together,

Conceptualizing Mind Wandering Using a Systems Approach: a Preliminary Exploration

  • S. Jayasinghe
  • Psychology
    Integrative psychological & behavioral science
  • 2020
The author proposes that a complex adaptive system (CAS) is a suitable explanatory model forMind wandering and attempts to develop a model based on content of thoughts, which may have implications in the understanding of mental distress and illness.



The restless mind.

Evidence suggests that mind wandering shares many similarities with traditional notions of executive control, and can be seen as a goal-driven process, albeit one that is not directed toward the primary task.

Shifting moods, wandering minds: negative moods lead the mind to wander.

Results provide further support for the notion that a negative mood reduces the amount of attentional commitment to the task in hand and may do so by enhancing the focus on task irrelevant personal concerns.

Wandering Minds: The Default Network and Stimulus-Independent Thought

It was demonstrated that mind-wandering is associated with activity in a default network of cortical regions that are active when the brain is “at rest” and individuals' reports of the tendency of their minds to wander were correlated with activity on this network.

Going AWOL in the Brain: Mind Wandering Reduces Cortical Analysis of External Events

The data suggest that when trying to engage attention in a sustained manner, the mind will naturally ebb and flow in the depth of cognitive analysis it applies to events in the external environment.

For Whom the Mind Wanders, and When

An experience-sampling study of 124 undergraduates, pretested on complex memory-span tasks, found that during challenging activities requiring concentration and effort, higher-WMC subjects maintained on-task thoughts better, and mind-wandered less, than did lower-W MC subjects.

Tracking the train of thought from the laboratory into everyday life: An experience-sampling study of mind wandering across controlled and ecological contexts

The propensity to mind wander appears to be a stable cognitive characteristic and seems to predict performance difficulties in daily life, just as it does in the laboratory.

Self-projection and the brain

Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering

An fMRI study that used experience sampling to provide an online measure of mind wandering during a concurrent task revealed a number of crucial aspects of the neural recruitment associated with mind wandering, highlighting the value of combining subjective self-reports with online measures of brain function for advancing the understanding of the neurophenomenology of subjective experience.

The Brain's Default Network

Past observations are synthesized to provide strong evidence that the default network is a specific, anatomically defined brain system preferentially active when individuals are not focused on the external environment, and for understanding mental disorders including autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease.

The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures