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The Happiness Track: Creating an Inbox Meditation

<em>Edit Article</em> The Happiness Track: Creating an Inbox Meditation

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Cognitive overload is a term psychologists use when referring to dealing with too much information or too many tasks. Such overload can impair our memory and decision making, and can make us more prone to errors we don’t notice—such as stereotyping other people as our brains take shortcuts through the clutter. In other words, the more overwhelmed we are by information, the less responsive we become to actual people—and the overload problem is getting worse. A 2008 study by Roger Bohn of the University of California–San Diego showed that the average American consumed 34 GB and 100,000 words of information every day—enough to crash a new laptop in one week. And that was in 2008, when the iPhone had barely made it to market!More fatiguing yet is the emotional load of digital contact. Almost every message we receive has an emotional component, and emotional overload has also been shown to impair our thinking. For example, checking 10 emails in your inbox can trigger 10 different emotions—such as anxiety about the big project that’s due; excitement about last night’s date; sadness from the latest headlines; …

Emma Seppala, is the author of The Happiness Track and Science Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford Medical School.

About the Author

Emma Seppala

Emma Seppälä, PhD, is author of The Happiness Track, founder of, and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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