News Item: Neuroscience

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Rx for Happiness:
Be Here Now

Minds stray more than 30 percent of the time during all activities (except perhaps sex).  Regardless of whether one’s thoughts turn to worrisome or pleasant topics, letting them wander correlates with a downward shift in mood.

To gather the data, researchers employed a specially created iPhone app that randomly prompted experimental subjects to report on current activities, feelings and thoughts, rating the last two as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.  Positive thoughts failed to uplift mood, and negative and neutral ones made people feel worse.

Reported in Science News, the results speak only to the short-term effect of reveries.  The scientists did acknowledge that letting one’s mind range beyond the task at hand might be beneficial in the long run, offering opportunities to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

The study seems to reinforce the notion that living in the moment enhances well-being.  Though not part of the comments quoted in the article, the findings raise questions about whether the concentration problems of those suffering from various anxiety disorders (including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) contribute to their general inability to feel good (anhedonia), a defining symptom of depression.