Secret to all-day happiness
Renowned stress expert Amit Sood, M.D., shares the science- backed technique known as “focused attention” that can slash stress and boost positivity throughout our hectic days. Here, the simple steps that put an end to worries and send joy soaring
New neuroscience findings reveal there’s a biological reason why our to-do lists aren’t just long but never-ending—and why we can’t get out from under to enjoy the contentment we crave. According to Amit Sood, M.D., chair of the Mayo Clinic Mind Body Initiative and author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, our brain seesaws between two modes: the focused mode, when we’re absorbed in a state of cheerful engagement; and the default mode, when our mind wanders to undone tasks and worries. Problem is, our brain is hardwired to keep us fretting about work deadlines, doctor appointments and back-to-school busyness, so we don’t get enough time in that joy-boosting focused mode.
“On average, the choices we have to make and the struggles we sift through each day saddle us with up to 150 ‘open files’ in our mind, so we spend 50 to 80 percent of our days physically present, but mentally distracted by concerns and worries,” Dr. Sood explains. “We get so caught up in weeding the yards of our lives that we completely miss the flowers around us—we postpone joy.”
Through his work with thousands of patients over the past two decades,
Dr. Sood has discovered that sprinkling moments of “focused attention” throughout the day, during which we consciously choose our thoughts and sensory experiences, can rebalance our brain, allowing us to break free of stress and step into bliss. Here’s how: