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Happiness Hacks: The Surprising Role of Focus and Attention on Mood

What we tend to think of as achievement might not have as strong an impact on our well-being as we thought. In fact, a study using, which monitors people's happiness in real-time through the use of iPhones, found that the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences may be more influential in determining our happiness.

So, if it’s not what we might view as typical achievements, what can we do to increase our happiness?

One promising finding from the study is that activities that engage the mind, like socializing and exercising, are associated with increased happiness. On the other hand, mind-wandering, or letting our minds stray from the present, has been linked to decreased happiness.

This suggests that our focus and attention may be key to finding joy.

Of course, this is just one aspect of the complex happiness puzzle. Further research is needed to fully understand the causes of happiness and how it can be improved. However, scientific methods, such as, have allowed us to study happiness on a large scale and gather valuable insights. As we search for ways to increase our happiness and well-being, it may be worth considering the role that our focus and attention play in our daily lives.

The Ted presentation below made me think of the few times I’ve attended shows where they locked away everyone’s smartphones. Those shows are always incredibly more fun than others because before the start of the show strangers actually interact with each other. Then once the show begins, all eyes are where they should be - on the stage.

Everyone is simply a lot more present and fully engaged.

When I compare these shows to the ones I’ve attended where people can keep their devices, I have to say that during the latter, everyone is focused on their phones, and strangers keep to themselves. The atmosphere is colder in comparison.

Now I want to share some things I think might be helpful when it comes to focusing:

  • Take a break from screens: Set aside specific times during the day to unplug from electronic devices and focus on the present moment. Definitely do this when spending time with friends and family as much as you can.

  • Work out: If you’re strength training, try to avoid looking at your phone between sets. I can’t help you when it comes to unplugging while doing cardio. During my low-intensity cardio sessions, I mainly focus on my phone or a book.

  • Use sensory cues: I’ll bring my attention back to the present moment by engaging my senses, like smelling a scented candle or essential oil or listening to music without vocals. Music without any vocals is really key for me.

  • Chores: I don’t know why, but cleaning gets me super focused.

  • Journal: Journaling helps me to both focus and organize my thoughts.

I recently read about an idea called the “3 things” exercise. It’s a simple but effective way to ground ourselves in our surroundings and refocus our attention on the present.

When you find your mind wandering, try bringing your attention back to the present moment by identifying

  • three things you can see,

  • three things you can touch, and

  • three things you can hear.

Although happiness has many facets, we can take action to enhance our well-being by being more aware and present in our daily lives!

Watch the video below.

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