Friday, December 10, 2010

Want to Be Happier? Pay Attention!

Want to Be Happier? Pay Attention!
Soren Gordhamer (author of Wisdom 2.0) Huffington Post
The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for asking his students, "Why do you wash the dishes?"

If you think it is to get the dishes clean, you are mistaken.

The reason to wash the dishes is... to wash the dishes. It is to be fully involved with the act. You do it for the beauty of the act itself, not for a particular result.

Researchers are slowly coming to the same conclusion. Harvard researchers, in a study of over 2,200 people, asked them how they were doing at various random times. The researchers found, as reported in The New York Times, that what mattered more was not what people were doing but rather the degree of attention that they were bringing to what they were doing.

According to the article, "Whatever people were doing, whether it was having sex or reading or shopping, they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity instead of thinking about something else. In fact, whether and where their minds wandered was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing."

The old way is to think that to have one's body sitting on a beach in the Bahamas is much better than having it sit in rush-hour traffic in New York City. And while there may be some truth to the fact that is easier to pay full attention while in a relaxed environment, according to the researchers, "the location of the body is much less important than the location of the mind, and that the former has surprisingly little influence on the latter." More>>

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