The mind is highly adept at wandering off into fantasy, which can be any flight of thought, imagined conversation, future-oriented idea, wish, or desire. According to research, people spend an average of 46.9 percent of their waking hours in fantasy, or mind wandering, rather than thinking about the activity in which they are engaged. What's more, the greater the mind wandering, the greater the unhappiness that people reported.

Have you ever stopped to think about how many fantasies you experience daily? What do they consist of? How long do you dwell on them? Do they appear at certain times of the day, such as when you are stressed, daydreaming, or avoiding an unpleasant task? . . .

Choose a period during the day when you can devote time to catching fantasies, such as while driving your car or traveling somewhere. Turn off the radio and try to remove other distractions.

1. Look for themes that appear over and over.

2. When you get to a place where you can write down your fantasies, do so in a nonjudgmental way.

After a week or two of observing and writing down fantasies, you will have a better sense of your habits of mind.

Fantasy catching can be an eye-opening and worthwhile experience that brings full attention into your life. You are getting a glimpse behind the veil of how your mind operates and what it is attracted to or repelled by. Do you notice any repeating themes? Angry and confrontational themes may be stress inducing, while themes of traveling to exotic places may offer insight into a personal passion or a unique way to use your joy compass.

Don't give up on these practices for becoming friends with your mind and body. Give yourself credit for taking this giant step into self-knowing awareness. Approach this endeavor with a sense of lightness, openness, acceptance, and curiosity. You will likely discover more about your mind and body than you thought possible.

Donald Altman in The Joy Compass: 8 Ways to Find Lasting Happiness, Gratitude & Optimism in the Present Moment