A fascinating new piece in The Atlantic explores what our minds are really up to while they’re wandering.
Mind wandering may seem counter productive, taking your thoughts away from whatever task is at hand, but Atlantic writer Jake Pelini notes that it can have big benefits. “Much mind-wandering is future-oriented, and researchers have found that it gives us a chance to think about our goals,” he writes.
He also explains how two Harvard researchers developed an iPhone app to better understand what causes the human mind to wander after reading that one in 16 emergency room visits in the U.S. are due to accidents caused by lack of focus. The researchers found that people’s minds are more likely to wander when they’re upset than when they’re happy, and that they mostly daydream about pleasant things. In terms of when people’s minds are most likely to wander off, 65 percent of app users reported that their mind wandered during “personal grooming activities” like showering, but were least likely to wander during sex.
Read more about the science behind mind wandering in The Atlantic.