Then, after the study, participants were asked what they were doing, whether their mind was wandering, and the nature of the subject they were thinking about. Had their minds wandered to a “pleasant” subject, a “neutral” one, or an “unpleasant” one?
The researchers found that about half the time, people’s minds wandered to a pleasant topic. In those instances, the study participants described themselves as being no happier or less happy than when they were not experiencing mind wandering.
In other words, a person having a pleasant daydream isn’t necessarily a happier person.
Meanwhile, the other half of the time (on average), study participants described their minds as wandering to a neutral or unpleasant subject. In either case, those people were unhappy.
“In conclusion,” the researchers wrote, “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”