TED Talks on the local NPR station was discussing relative happiness when our minds wander.
The conclusion was people are happier when focused a some task at hand rather than when their minds were wandering. Most of the time when our minds wander it is to unpleasant thoughts, like worry or anger about something.
This prompted some rather joyful giggling on my part. Most religious monastic traditions have discovered this a very long time ago. Mindfulness, living in the moment, capturing our thoughts with good things are common threads and themes.
The TED Talker also claimed that it didn't matter how significant or complicated the task in focus was, just focusing seemed to bring about more happiness. He specifically used commuting as an example.
People expressed unhappiness with commuting, not because of the mindlessness or dreariness of the task, but rather with the tendency of the their minds to wander to even more unpleasant things. People were happier when they focused on the task of driving and were able to control their wandering minds.
Our Orthodox tradition of The Jesus Prayer serves a similar purpose. It focuses our minds and hearts on a simple, repetitive task, and constrains us from wandering our attention to other unpleasantness. We also apply significance to the content of the prayer as a simple yet complete expression of repentance and salvation in Christ Jesus.
Ted Talk: Stay In The Moment