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The Happiness Track: Naming Your Hauntings

illustration of many heads


Quite simply, the hauntings of our mind stand between us and everything else.

Hauntings, entities, ghosts … Call them what you may—some people believe in them, others don’t. Perhaps we’re asking the wrong questions. We give so much importance to strange and paranormal things, while giving too little importance to the undeniable hauntings of our own mind. Memories, worries, concepts, judgments, opinions, calculations—we exist and drown in a swirling sea of thoughts. In many ways, we are the haunted ones. Emotions have an impact on our cognition, behavior, decision-making, and emotional intelligence. Fears from our past fill us with apprehension, even though the situation may be new. They stand between us and a new romance, job, or house purchase. Beautiful memories of times gone by fill us with regret and nostalgia, pinching at our hearts and taking away from the present moment. Anxiety over the future stands in the way of our being grateful for what we already have. After all, many of the things we once wanted we now have. Anger overshadows our minds, making us act toward others in ways we never would do in our right minds. The expression “to be beside oneself …

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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