Researcher Matt Killingsworth will present his research and theory on the key to happiness Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at Sentry Insurance’s Theater@1800.
“It’s free and it will hopefully influence people to be in the moment and change the effectiveness of relationships,” said Patricia Caro, associate dean and head of the School of Education. “If you’re with someone, try to be truly with them.”
The lecture is an installment of “Point in Common,” a series sponsored by several local education organizations. Killingsworth will share his data on how non-present thought affects overall happiness.
“People have been debating the causes of happiness for a really long time, in fact for thousands of years, but it seems like many of those debates remain unresolved,” Killingsworth said. “As with many other domains in life, I think the scientific method has the potential to answer this question.”
While working on Ph.D. research at Harvard University, Killingsworth created the Track Your Happiness app, which allows people to record their moment-to-moment happiness. Killingsworth discovered that 47 percent of the time people think about things not pertaining to the activities they are currently engaging in.
“The ability to focus on something other than the present is amazing,” Killingsworth said. “It gives us the ability to learn and plan and reason in ways that no other species can, and yet it’s not clear what this relationship is between our use of this ability and our happiness.”
During the weeks leading up to the lecture, the public is invited to design their own videos describing what makes them happy, then share them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #GetHappyPoint. The first place winner will receive a $100 Portage County gift certificate, and the two runners-up will receive $25 gift certificates.
“My boyfriend and I are always talking about being mindful and present,” said Kristin Mathes, a social work and sociology major. “This is definitely something we’d be interested in.”
The School of Education, along with other community agencies, all meet regularly to devise presentations to appeal to a variety of audiences. This is the last installment of the academic year, but Caro says they are already planning for next fall.
“’Point in Common’ puts an emphasis on sharing information on education and what is going on in the community,” Caro said. “We try to pick speakers who will appeal to parents, educators and students alike.”
Free childcare will be offered at the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center to parents attending the lecture. To register or for more information, visit www.pointincommon.org.