Since my last blog post, 26 people have been recruited to use our app for pay – 17 of which are still busy completing each day of the app. Dr. Trub and I have been using Mixpanel, an analytics service, to track our participants’ use of Mindful Messaging. Using Mixpanel, I have been able to view our users’ responses to questions we ask about the app as well as their drafted, sent, and unsent messages that go through Mindful Messaging’s text message composition tool. In this blog post I will be analyzing this preliminary data.
At the end of day 1, users were asked to focus on the definition of mindfulness – “setting an intention, being in the present moment rather than allowing yourself to be distracted, and not judging any feelings or thoughts you have” – and to rate their level of mindfulness on a scale of 1 to 10 during eating, socializing in person, daily commute, being in class/work, working alone on an assignment/task, and use of their phone/ipad/etc. Almost all the users’ scores varied drastically between each category, suggesting an awareness of the presence (or lack of) mindfulness. In other words, users already had an idea of where in their lives they felt most and least mindful. I find this exercise to be a great way to prompt users to think about real-life applications of mindfulness and to view mindfulness as something that affects their lives outside of 5 minute guided meditations.
I believe this preliminary question also helped evoke a strong response to the proceeding task – to reflect on the part of their lives in which they most desired to increase mindfulness. There were many specific and powerful responses to this question (for example, “I would love to be more mindful when dealing with situations that leave me fearful and anxious.”)Many of the responses reflected some of the applications for mindfulness mentioned in the previous question, like being mindful while completing a task or while eating (a very common response), but by far the most common response had to do with bettering communication, whether by text or in person. Some users expressed a general desire to be more mindful in their relationships while others recognized specific instances in which they are least mindful: “I want to increase my mindfulness when I have drama in my life, because then I will think more clearly and know what to do next in a situation.” I could not be any happier about this response. The aim for having a mindful texting function imbedded in the app is to allow users to reflect on their current emotional state, imagine that of the person to receive the text, imagine their response, and have a chance to edit their drafted text.
The first quote mentioned above, although not necessarily referring to an interpersonal situation, anticipates the way in which many users chose not to send texts when using the messaging tool. Some users, after recognizing their current mood, decided not to send texts (which often contained positive or neutral content), for example: “Hey baby, how is your day going?” This person indicated they felt “stressed/frustrated” and that the person to receive the text would feel “indifferent” about it. I believe our mindful text messaging tool allows users to act (in a new way) without necessarily sending a text. A user can really feel what it would be like to send a text, have a moment to reflect on their motives and the apprehended reaction, and decide whether to proceed. Viewing one’s thoughts from a new perspective can help create more meaningful and useful texting habits. In this previous quote, suppose the user simply wanted to a reminder that his/her significant other is there as support in a time of stress. He/she felt like texting that person simply to be replied to. Now suppose the significant other was on the subway or at a meeting, the user would be waiting for a text and anticipating a kind of gratification. Maybe by using Mindful Messaging to draft this text, the user would take a moment to reflect, think of his/her significant other and the support they usually offer, and be solaced by the thought.