Mindfulness, Attention, and Focus
You may have heard a lot about mindfulness recently, as it has gone from a somewhat esoteric term to a mainstream one, fueled in part by a wave of scientific research documenting a host of benefits.
So what is mindfulness? For starters, simply put, the term "mindfulness" refers to a moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. We'll tease out what that definition means over the next two sequences of videos and readings. In this next video, Emiliana provides a roadmap for our week on mindfulness, in which we'll survey a wide range of mindfulness studies, explore how mindfulness is linked to happiness, and identify ways to build mindfulness.
As Emiliana suggested in the previous video, mindfulness is fundamentally about paying attention to what you're doing and sensing in the present moment. So does sharpening our focus on the present moment actually make us happier?
In the next video, researcher Matt Killingsworth explains how he addressed that question using some innovative methods. Though he never uses the term "mindfulness" in this video, the phenomenon he describes--the challenge of keeping our minds focused on what we're experiencing in the present moment--is central to the concept of mindfulness.
As you watch, consider: How frequently are you truly focused on what you're doing in the present moment? How frequently does your mind wander away? Do you notice it wandering even as you watch this video? If so, that's OK--just re-focus your attention on the video, then move on to the reading beneath it by Dr. Killingsworth, which draws on his talk. You can also learn more about his research by reading the original study, "A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind," that he describes in this video.
Click above to read this essay on Greater Good the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
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