Daydreams Make You Sad

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This man is daydreaming about being an iPhone.
This man is daydreaming about being an iPhone. Photo: iStockphoto

Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert have been using an iPhone app called Track Your Happiness to study people's habits and moods in order to determine "what makes life worth living." Since the 2,000 users who signed up responded throughout the course of their daily life, the researchers figured the data would lead to more accurate results. Around three times a day, the software sent questions about what users were doing and feeling and whether their mind was focused or wandering. Users reported daydreaming almost 50 percent of the time (dropping to below 30 percent only during sex). Since episodes of mind-wandering tended to come before a bad mood, but not the reverse, the study concluded that daydreaming might be bad for your happiness. Foolish you, going around fantasizing about lovely things you could be doing at this very moment, thinking it made life more bearable. You think those 2,000 people got distracted and depressed because their iPhone was pinging them three times a day pestering them about their feelings? Wrong! Stop daydreaming. Buy an iPhone. How else will you ever figure out the meaning of life?

iPhone app reveals the emotional downside of daydreams [New Scientist]