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“Do more than just exist.”
As author and social activist Jack London says, “The proper function of man is to live—not to exist.” Sadly, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all,” observes Irish author and poet Oscar Wilde.
To merely exist is said to be the root cause of unhappiness, according to philosophers and scientists. Defined as being in an autopilot or living without mindfulness, simply existing lacks the essential human experience known to be the key to happiness. Science says that being engrossed in an activity elongates the perception of time and contributes to long term satisfaction. This can be achieved though athletic activities like yoga, mountain climbing, dancing, and even walking. Creative people get into this state by immersing themselves to their craft.
Originally a concept of Buddhism, mindfulness has been found to be the key to a more satisfying existence. A wandering mind is susceptible to daydreaming, regretting, worrying, and overthinking which ultimately leads to depression. A recent Harvard study has shown that unhappy thoughts most likely occur in moments of boredom, when the mind does not recognize and appreciate the spur of the moment.
Being the “zone” or as what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refer to as the “flow”, makes the mind less prone to unhappiness because of total immersion to a specific action. More interestingly, the nature of the activity is not an important factor. What matters is that the mind is fully present in the moment.