How a wandering mind can become a happy mind

Washington: Mind wandering can be a sign of mental wellbeing, provided that your off-task musings are interesting and useful even if not related to the task at hand, a new study has suggested.

Michael S. Franklin and his colleagues used a detailed experimental protocol to show that the negative effect of mind wandering on mood only holds for run-of-the-mill musings: in contrast, creative musings are a sign of mental wellbeing.

In this recent study, 105 student volunteers were equipped with a personal digital assistant, which asked them at random moments - approximately 50 times over one week - how positive or negative they felt, whether they were mind wandering, and if any musings they had were interesting, useful, or novel.

The volunteers reported that they were mind wandering 26 percent of the time, and they felt in general less positive when doing so. However, interesting and useful musings were selectively associated with strongly positive mood.

Franklin and colleagues conclude that when people are encouraged to shift their musings to engaging topics, a wandering mind can become a happy mind.

The new study has been published in Frontiers in Psychology.


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