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Paying Attention and Mindfulness

Sam Chase | 15:59


My name is Sam Chase. And for the next 15 minutes, I really hope you'll pay attention. 

Now, I'm hopeful, but I am not going to let myself get too optimistic because I teach meditation for a living, and I studied the science of conscious attention. So I know a little bit about the kinds of things that tend to happen inside the human mind. 

For example, I know that in 2010, a group of researchers out of Harvard got together to study the daily thoughts of over 5000 people from over 80 countries, one of the things that they found was that our minds are actually wandering about 47% of the time, which means if half of you are actually paying attention right now, I'm probably beating the odds by just a little bit. 

But even more important than that, they also found that when our minds are wandering, we tend to be less happy than when we're focused on what's happening in the present moment. Now, mind wandering actually has a whole bunch of benefits. It's a huge part of how we do our creative thinking, it's where all of our planning happens, it actually seems to be a big part of how we keep a coherent sense of ourselves who we are as time goes by. 

But when it comes to happiness, seems like most of that happens in the here and now. And how we handle what's happening in the here, and now it can get pretty tricky to a 2014 study brought together a group of hundreds of people, probably a lot like you, one by one, these people were placed alone in an empty room for 15 minutes, just to be with their thoughts. 

On the other side of that 15 minutes, most of those people rated that time as boring and unpleasant. To find out just how boring and unpleasant in a later version of the same experiment, before they put people alone in a room, they gave them a painful electric shock.

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