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Mindfulness, Flow, and Mind Wandering: The Role of Trait-Based Mindfulness in State-Task Alignment

  • Scott B. Dust (a1)

Mindfulness—present moment attention and awareness (Brown & Ryan, 2003)—is commonly proposed as a productive state of consciousness in the workplace. Unfortunately, being mindful at every moment of the workday is fairly uncommon. Research suggests that people engage in mind wandering—a lack of attention to and awareness of the present (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006)—for the majority of their day (in every task except making love; Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). Further, there is another state of consciousness called flow—an intense sense of concentration and control over activities—that has also been linked to workplace performance (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). Interestingly, whereas mindfulness facilitates higher performance by being aware of external stimuli, flow enables higher performance by doing the opposite—blocking out external stimuli. These findings suggest that mindfulness is neither the most common psychological state nor the only productive psychological state for the workplace.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Scott B. Dust, Department of Management, Farmer School of Business, Miami University, 800 East High Street, 3047 FSB, Oxford, OH 45056. E-mail:
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Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • ISSN: 1754-9426
  • EISSN: 1754-9434
  • URL: /core/journals/industrial-and-organizational-psychology
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