I am currently taking a class this semester called “The Psychology of Personal Well-Being: How to Live a Happy Life,” and some of the readings made me think about just how much time I spend in a day having my mind wander, constantly dwelling on the past, and worrying about the future. I learned that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind (Killingsworth & Gilbert 2010). Fortunately, I also learned that I can train my mind not to wander through meditation and really focus on what I am doing without thinking about something else. My professor, Fr. David Marcotte, taught us that twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation a day can help reduce stress, anxiety, anger, and depression. Furthermore, thirty minutes of meditation can help build a stronger immune system and reduce blood pressure. All of this sounds great but when I first learned about it, I thought to myself, “I don’t have time to just sit here and meditate when I could be doing something else.” I realized then that this was my problem and that I rarely dedicate any time to my psychological needs and my well-being. Twenty or thirty minutes initially sounded a lot but it’s actually not compared to the hours I’ve spent overthinking.
From the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, it seems as though I am consumed with endless thought and activity. When I decide to take a break, I sometimes feel guilty because I think to myself that I could be using this time to catch up on assignments or do something else that is more productive. I used to think that simply sitting around and not doing anything would be wasting time, but I have come to realize that it is important to take some time to relax, meditate, clear my mind, and unwind. It is okay to take a break and focus on myself while working towards my happiness and well-being. If I do not take care of myself then I would not be able to live up to my true potential and be the best that I can be. One of my goals this semester is to set some time aside every week to meditate and not think of it as wasting time but rather, actually using it wisely to help myself start living a happier life filled with peace and calmness. I would be investing time in myself, my health, and my happiness.
According to Augustine in Confessions, there is “a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things to come” (246). The past does not exist anymore and the future has yet to exist so why do I spend so much time in the present worrying about things that have already happened or things that have not even happened yet when I should be focusing on the here and now? I always try to remind myself not to regret or expect because what matters is this instant which I am living in. Even if I regret something, it is not going to change what has already happened but I can use that as a lesson moving forward. I also try not to expect the worse either because that will only bring me fear and anxiety. It is not healthy for me to constantly beat myself up over what I could have done differently or worry about every little thing that could go wrong. Why continue wasting my time stressing over situations that are out of my control? Sometimes my mind wanders and I start thinking about different things that I wish I was doing instead, but I am now striving to refocus my attention on the present moment and try to enjoy it. I am glad that I am taking class on time, as well as a class on well-being, because I hope to change the way I spend my time and be able to make better decisions that will help me grow as a person from here on out.
I’ve attached a link to the research article if anyone is interested: http://www.danielgilbert.com/KILLINGSWORTH%20&%20GILBERT%20(2010).pdf