Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My web-surfing, my mind, my dukkha

One of the interesting things about the internet - how many sentences do you read that begin like that anymore? - is that it gives, irrefutably, a history, a memory, of where your mind's been.

I of course, have a number of things I do each day with the 'net, a number of things that involve family needs, work, retirement planning, my interests in the news, politics, science, and fitness.

So here's where my mind is today:

I’m not sure I believe this prediction [about focused attention versus random wandering of the mind], but I can assure you it is based on an enormous amount of daydreaming cataloged in the current issue of Science. Using an iPhone app called trackyourhappiness, psychologists at Harvard contacted people around the world at random intervals to ask how they were feeling, what they were doing and what they were thinking.
The least surprising finding, based on a quarter-million responses from more than 2,200 people, was that the happiest people in the world were the ones in the midst of enjoying sex. Or at least they were enjoying it until the iPhone interrupted.
The researchers are not sure how many of them stopped to pick up the phone and how many waited until afterward to respond. Nor, unfortunately, is there any way to gauge what thoughts — happy, unhappy, murderous — went through their partners’ minds when they tried to resume.
When asked to rate their feelings on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being “very good,” the people having sex gave an average rating of 90. That was a good 15 points higher than the next-best activity, exercising, which was followed closely by conversation, listening to music, taking a walk, eating, praying and meditating, cooking, shopping, taking care of one’s children and reading. Near the bottom of the list were personal grooming, commuting and working...

You might suppose that if people’s minds wander while they’re having fun, then those stray thoughts are liable to be about something pleasant — and that was indeed the case with those happy campers having sex. But for the other 99.5 percent of the people, there was no correlation between the joy of the activity and the pleasantness of their thoughts.
“Even if you’re doing something that’s really enjoyable,” Mr. Killingsworth [of Harvard] says, “that doesn’t seem to protect against negative thoughts. The rate of mind-wandering is lower for more enjoyable activities, but when people wander they are just as likely to wander toward negative thoughts.”

 But then we mindful Buddhist folks kinda knew that, didn't we?

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