Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus

Wandering minds aren't happy minds; 5 ways to increase your focus and stay in the moment.


[ 5 Ways to Be Mindful and Achieve Optimal Health] 3. Immerse yourself in a good book or movie. Reading a page-turner or watching a compelling movie or TV show can be a great way to practice mindfulness, McGonigal contends—provided that you don't allow yourself to be distracted by, say, a ringing phone or buzzing Blackberry.

4. Minimize multi-tasking. "It's the enemy of mindfulness," says McGonigal. Stop the texting while having lunch with friends. Don't check your E-mail when you're helping the kids with homework (self please take note). And stop scanning the internet when you get a call from a client. If you still sense your mind wandering, force your attention back to the task at hand. Hear the voice you're listening to; read the words on the report in front of you; watch the car that's about to cut into your lane.

[Is Constant Texting a Sign of Insecurity, Narcissism or Both?]

5. Practice five to 10 minutes of daily meditation. Sure, most of us don't have a clue about meditating, but that's what the internet was invented for. McGonigal has a free audio meditation session you can listen to, and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn has posted a free video of a meditation class he gave to Google executives. The benefits? Those who practice regular meditation snap out of the brain's default wandering mode much faster than those who don't, according to a 2008 study from Emory University School of Medicine. They are also practicing a little defensive medicine. "If you meditate regularly," says McGonigal, "you'll prevent the cognitive decline in attention span that naturally occurs with aging."