One Way to Prevent Negative Stress08/07/2018
Guaranteed to Increase Your Stress!08/07/2018
Have you thought more about the positive stress in your life? One person wrote to say that “all of my stress is negative” and that she had no positive stress or “eustress” whatsoever. We can all relate to that feeling. We are sort of conditioned to think that stress is negative and the less we can have the better, right?
‘d like for you to consider a study from 2010 by Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth, both faculty psychologists at Harvard. (Note that 8 years ago preceded many events that have seemingly turned the world, and subsequently people’s emotional lives, upside down.)
In their study 2,250 volunteers, via a smart phone app, were randomly asked:
1) what they were doing, 2) were they thinking about what they were doing, and 3) how they felt at that moment?
The survey had some very surprising results, and the data certainly connects to how we think about the stress in our lives. A quick summary:
- Adults spend 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than our task at hand
- When our mind wanders, it is usually not to a happy place
- Much time is spent thinking about events of the past, things that could happen in the future, or those that might never happen at all
- The nature of people’s activities had only minimal impact on IF their minds wandered and had almost NO impact on the pleasantness of topics to which their minds wandered
- People were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were not, and this was true during all activities, including the least enjoyable (!)
Although negative moods are known to cause mind wandering, Gilbert & Killingworth’s final analyses strongly suggested that mind wandering was generally the cause, and not the consequence, of unhappiness. What people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than what they were doing.
Do you see anything about you, how you think about yourself and your stress in this data?
Are you focusing and directing your thoughts on your task at hand? It might be a good place to start to reduce some stress in your life.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.