The human mind is imaginative. A Harvard study shows that our mind wanders for almost 12 hours a day on average. Whether you are a nostalgic or a dreamer, your wandering mind never rests. It brings you back to the good old memories or brings you to far off dreamy fantasies: the days when you were a little kid with nothing to worry about or the day you will finally retire from work to enjoy life.
But sooner or later, you will realize that a gap which can’t be bridged exists between what we think and what is our current reality. This cruel truth always makes us unhappy with the reality we are in. And the more we partake in letting our minds wander, the larger this gap becomes.
A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind
A wandering mind is a hotbed of negative and vain thoughts. A Harvard study reveals that wandering minds are directly related to unhappiness.
“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” – Killingsworth and Gilbert, Psychologists of Harvard University
The research shows that despite the fact that people might be thinking about some neutral or pleasant things, they are still less happy than those who don’t wander at all.
Keep Your Mind Occupied in the State of Flow
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a notable psychologist in positive psychology, suggests the idea of state of flow by saying that when someone is extremely concentrated on a specific activity, one’s mind is fully occupied because the human nervous system is incapable of processing too much information.  Entering the flow state prevents your mind from wandering and is one of the ways to achieve a sustained feeling of happiness.
Let’s say you are a musician composing a piece of music. It is not hard to imagine that your mind will be fully occupied with musical notes, leaving you with little room to even think about what to eat for lunch. Within the State of Flow, most of our worries and concerns take the back burner as we are living in the present moment.
But as mentioned previously, our minds spend a lot of time wandering. So how can we spend less time wandering and enter the State of Flow?
Entering the State of Flow Is Like Riding a Bike!
Pick a Route You Enjoy
When you ride a bike, your journey becomes more enjoyable if you pick the routes you like. To enter the state of flow, you should also find one interesting thing in the task you’re going to work on. It is not uncommon for people who get their hands dirty immediately without realizing the fascinating parts of whatever they do. It is very unlikely that they can enter the state of flow without seeing something intriguing.
Spare Time To Warm Up
Everything takes time, riding a bike and entering the state of flow also take time. For example, before riding a bike you may do 15 minutes of warm up exercises and stretching to get your body ready to go. Your mind is similar. It needs some time to get into the state, and it takes even longer for you to be fully immersed, so you need to be patient. You might not be able to enter the state of flow in the first few minutes but you have to wait for a bit longer until your mind is warmed up. But once you have entered the state of flow, you won’t even notice the passage of time.
Keep the Wheels Rolling Till the End
You can’t stop to keep the wheels rolling. When you stop applying force, the bike will eventually stop and you can’t go on with your journey. Entering the state of flow means you shouldn’t be stopping in the middle as well. You need to be clear on what you want to achieve and know what you are working for, like you should know your direction and destination while riding a bike. Losing direction makes us distracted by other things easily, which makes it quite impossible for us to get into the zone.
Entering the state of flow, or in other words, being mindful is the first step to the road of true happiness. Happiness doesn’t come from the good old days you once had, the reality that you are currently in, or the golden future that you have been dreaming about. Happiness is a state of mind.