A shock study of iPhone users has found that they spend 46.9 per cent of their time thinking about something other than what they're doing - and this febrile absentmindedness makes them deeply unhappy.
"A wandering mind is an unhappy mind," say Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard uni. "The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost."
In order to discover the mournful effects of fondle-slab possession, Killingsworth developed an iPhone web app that contacted 2,250 volunteers at random intervals to ask how happy they were, what they were currently doing, and whether they were thinking about their current activity or about something else that was pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant.
On average, respondents reported that their minds were wandering 46.9 per cent of the time. The only activity which caused doleful absentmindedness to drop below 30 per cent among slab-fondlers was "making love".
"Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people's happiness," Killingsworth says. "In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged."
According to the app-happy academics, it is letting your mind wander that makes you unhappy, not the other way round.
"Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to 'be here now,'" Killingsworth and Gilbert contend. "These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind."