The latter one helps me to reduce head buzz which is generated by randomly reading HN posts or working on a demanding task.
Reading a book, where I actually need to concentrate on the book, some contents generate occasional mind branches. That means, I continue reading, but I think about something else triggered by what's in the book. Then I switch back to the book realizing "Wait, where was I? I have no idea why I'm reading this, and now I skipped a whole page."
When I make a long trip I also have a lot of time to think. So, my scope of thoughts grows and my mind wanders. Basically that's the mode which potentially might make me very happy or deeply unhappy. Because the scope expands from decisions made in the past to decisions to make in the future. And that's where it hurts most.
Can anyone relate?
If you've got the time, I highly recommended this talk by John Cleese on Creativity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb5oIIPO62g
I also can't skim text - need to almost pronounce all the phrases in my head, which is a pain when reading long books. I do read a lot, and have no literacy or comprehension issues - just seems like there's interference somewhere..
A good book is a catalyst for the creative mind.
I think, when my mind wanders off while still reading that means I got "bored" with the text by already knowing what's going to happen and I switch to associative thoughts instead. That's a problem for people who think highly associative instead of sequential. They need to apply or follow sequential logic actively instead of just doing it automatically, and that occasionally bores the hell of them, or exhaust them, because often they just know how things are. Hence the wandering mind in this case is a different one compared to the cases in the article.
Notice any difference between how your brain "behaves" reading fiction and non-fiction/academic works - e.g. reading for enjoyment vs reading argumentative discourse. For fiction, do you also find yourself guessing at the content or wandering off?
Both cases have similar pattern in terms of wandering off for me, but they are not quite the same. Reading for joy means enjoying the products of your own imagination, but sometimes it shoots over the line, I guess. Reading for work is more tedious, because its not for fun, hence the guessing distraction, like "yeah, I get it, but what about this and that?" Having understood the problem, reading the solutions then seems kinda obvious.
There is a difference, but both follow the same pattern, so: yeah.
I'll sometimes find myself unable to grasp what I'm reading as if I were daydreaming while reading it, and I have to read it four or five times before I can get a clue about the material. It's easier if I break it down into the smallest fragments I can, and really force myself to understand those little bits, proceeding through it until I've stitched together a few of these into a larger concept. Rinse, repeat.
Playing by ear is much harder for me because I know just a few scales, and I can't hold a note in my head long enough to find it on the fretboard. Knowing the scales would make everything a subconscious pattern.
Mind you, I am starting to think that's entirely an anxiety thing.
Will look into those vitamins, thanks for the tip!
I find it helpful to use a scrap of paper as a bookmark and write down the page numbers of excerpts that strike me. Then when I'm done I go back and type the excerpts up into a big Google doc I keep for this purpose along with a paragraph or two of my thoughts on the book.
Usually the quotes trigger the tangential ideas I had while reading and I can synthesize them into something useful.
I'm happy I found this technique. I think it's significantly upped the utility I get from books, since I can go back and remember what hit me about them.
Here, for example, is what I wrote down for A House For Mr Biswas:
> Finished yesterday, and found this primarily a story about a man who never really knows himself, and as a result can never quite situate other people in relation to himself. Fits and starts of self-improvement, a sense of life about to begin that persists for far too long, shifting roles played according to setting, a series of humiliations for which books offer some kind of solace and hope for betterment -- yikes. Like Proust, Naipaul seems to like unpacking the (nonobvious, often directly contradicting the obvious) motivations behind actions, and like The God of Small Things, the picture that emerges is one in which nobody is all that good, though it mercifully lacks its clockwork-mechanism-of-misery aspect
I generally find that books leave me with ideas and sensations that tend to just dissipate if I don't write them down. This is a way of combating that.
I think the problem is not the wandering itself, but self-focus of the wandering. Great eureka moments come from wandering, but they are about external, objective questions.
John Stuart Mill (the utilitarianism guy) developed an "anti-self-consciousness theory" and overcame his depression/ennui.
"Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation exhaust themselves on that." ---
I don't think of the associated depression, loneliness and boredom as being good or bad, they are simply part of a rich mental life.
I am often frustrated by difficulty concentrating, though, and frequently have invasive thoughts as you describe. The things that have helped me most with those are eliminating caffeine, meditating regularly (particularly compassion meditation, peculiarly), and exercise.
But yes, I can relate! I'm very grateful for having a mind that wanders, despite the irritation (it's not unlike caring for a small child I think)
Solve this with a "catch": something you use to empty the distracting ideas from your head, then get back to what you're doing. The original suggestion for a catch I found in "Mind Performance Hacks" by Ron Hale-Evans was a piece of paper and a writing utensil. These days with all sorts of apps to "catch" ideas, you have plenty of options. I've become very comfortable with org-mode myself.
It also happens when I listen to audiobooks. Sometimes I pause these or swap to music if the wandering is too bad.
I completely relate to this.
If I’m reading something technical or work related, I can’t concentrate because my mind is unable to bridge that gap between the text and my imagination. I find myself bored within moments and I skim the text looking for keywords that are relative to the problem I’m trying to solve.
It has always been a frustrating thing.
It's not complete physical exhaustion, but a heavy session of lifting weights or cardio certainly clears my mind, helps me to to focus on tasks to completion.
I've experienced sleep deprived productivity before, but I have found it is hit and miss too.
My best creativity is when riding my bike in a relaxing place, in the shower, or what I call the half-sleep trance just before falling asleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation has the opposite effect though, so it isn't the most practical.
It's been decades since I've enjoyed a "summer time" but once, when I lost my job for about 6 weeks, I was almost happy during week 5 until I landed a job offer, and spent week 6 stressing about returning to work. It took me a month to feel like a human being again, and just as I started to relax, it was taken away from me.
So I disagree. A mind compelled to focus for unnatural reasons, onto details personally irrelevant to one's continued existence, under threat of being ostracized from civilized society (can't pay rent; out on the street) is an unhappy mind.
Today we might rush after digital clocks and adapt our waking lives to the never extinguished electric lights that encircle us, all while the power of science has still failed to reduce our working times which have been rising ever since the agricultural revolution. In earlier society people felt the need to please the Gods - whatever their job situation was.
Even as lone hunter-gatherer your mind would be stressed because life itself continuously coerces you into doing inconvenient things in order to survive. You need things and they aren't just popping into your hands. Society made it massively easier to simply survive and not die.
But the factor we are REALLY after and which stresses us out without end is status. For you, for your children, for the rest of your family. Until status doesn't matter, stress will exist. No matter how much we secure and automate in the rest of our lives, be it health or hunger.
How do they know what animals think or don't think about? Many, many animals have lots of idle time where they do mostly nothing (not looking for food, or a mate, or anything); why would they not be dreaming or remembering things from the past??
"Qui auget scientiam, auget et dolorem. Qui auget dolorem, auget et scientiam."
Lucio Anneo Seneca - De providentia - AD 64
translated: who deepens his wisdom deepens also his sorrow. who deepens his sorrow deepens also his wisdom
For me in the end, it's those realities that come pay me a visit when the mind wanders. To add to it, I use to relish the fun and imagination a wandering mind brought to my day. Now it's nothing more than a pain point.
I've recently read this article on Reddit , and it has some excellent points/advice. Please read through it. If you do like what he has to say, then one way to follow this advice is to look into the concept of Mindfulness, specifically as put forward by Vipassana meditation .
 I specify Vipassana because the term mindfulness has become a world of hipster woo in recent times, and just looking into the term alone will probably take you nowhere.
If I think about it directly, I find it a saddening for a very brief moment, but it's nothing like it once was.
I'm not really sure when or how this changed for me. I'm an extremely monogamous person. I previously had very low self esteem. It was definitely in part a reflection of my insecurities.
I take 10mg of citalopram a day and underwent CBT partway through university due to undiagnosed anxiety, so perhaps this has played a role in my recovery.
Hope you both are doing okay, try and be kind to yourselves - I know it can be extremely difficult.
I'm finding this difficult to comment on so intangibly. Try and
suspend your convictions as stupid or empty the rest of this might
You really have to change your perspective.
For me, that meant making new memories. I struggled with the reminders
of that past relationship. It overlapped very many areas of my life,
there were a few I just couldn't avoid and many were dear to me. The
good becoming bad in that aftermath, it all seemed tainted by the
past, not going anywhere.
I took a new approach altogether in those areas, piece by piece.
Sooner or later I stopped having those initial and seemingly
involuntary attachments. I don't even recognise it anymore, but I do
still remember things and it isn't always bad. It does undo itself in
time, with that new perspective.
Those hard facts are a good thing if they are part of a process. Like
Our thoughts determine our feelings. You seem to have a great
awareness of your situation which has always been a good starting
point on many things for me. You can challenge your reality, the
present moment being based on what you're making of the past and not a
whole lot else (or so it seems).
Fwiw, I think it's a form of bitter competitiveness. It is reduced by having more diverse sexual experience and by one's partner not dwelling on their past and showing they treat you better than they treated their ex.
I agree with your premise, that it probably grows out of an evolutionary need, but the treatment you mention is flat out wrong for most people who have the issue.
All just conjecture of course, no clue if backed up by any evidence :-)
However, aside from "engaged wandering", I've found a lot of pain from a wandering mind. I am working as a solo-preneur on a high-risk venture. Anxiety seems to be ever-present at the door step of my attention, waiting for the next moment that my mind wanders and anxiety may enter.
>Unlike other animals, human beings spend
a lot of time thinking about what is not
going on around them
Did they interview all these other animals, all of them, Noah's ark style?
The proposition may well be true, but it's still a proposition presented a fact in what's presumably meant to look like a somewhat scientific report.
My mind doesn't just wander. I lose all further interest.
The Paper is a much better read than the OP => https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/application_uploads/...