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Four Reasons Why You Should Daydream More Often (Really!)



Daydreaming may help you solve some of life’s big-picture problems, like how to advance in your career.

Daydreaming, long associated with the procrastinator or the lazy student in the back of the classroom, has gotten a bad rap -- unfairly it now seems. For a while daydreaming was often looked down on as something to be done only in extreme moderation, and even then only on a rare summer day, preferably in a hammock.

It turns out this pastime may actually be good for you.

"If your mind didn't wander, then you'd be largely shackled to whatever you are doing right now," Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara said in The Boston Globe. "But instead you can engage in mental time travel and other kinds of simulation. During a daydream, your thoughts are really unbounded."

A daydream, it turns out, is actually your brain’s “default” mode, a fundamental element that allows you to imagine, create and process thoughts. This is great news given that daydreaming may take up a full one-third of our waking lives!

Four Top Reasons to Daydream Intentionally -- Starting Today

A daydream is much more than just a silly fantasy to keep you from getting bored at work. Following are some very real benefits that daydreaming has to offer, and if you’re interested in securing some of them for yourself, well, you know what to do.


Daydreaming can actually boost your creativity and improve your success!

  1. Activate your brain’s “executive network.” This is the area of your brain associated with high-level, complex problem-solving. According to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the less people were aware their minds were wandering, the more this “executive network,” and also the “default network” associated with easy, routine mental activity, were activated.

What this means is if you’re trying to solve a complicated problem, engaging yourself with a simple task, then letting your mind wander, may help.

  1. Improve your relationships and social interactions. When you daydream, your ability to think abstractly flourishes. And most often, we think abstractly about “what if” scenarios relating to people and social situations in our lives, which may help you to be more empathetic in real life.

  1. daydreaming

    "I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering."
     -- Stephen Wright, American actor, writer, comedian

    Boost your creativity. People who engage in more daydreaming score higher on experimental measures of creativity, according to research by Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  1. Increase your success. Daydreaming about achieving a particular goal you have, such as winning an upcoming marathon or getting into grad school, can actually help you achieve it. This type of daydreaming, sometimes called visualization, helps you to become more self-aware, and may actually count as “practice” to your brain that helps you during the actual event.

Interestingly, studies show the most beneficial type of daydream is the kind where you realize you’re doing it.

"Letting your mind drift off is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining enough awareness so that even when you start to daydream you can interrupt yourself and notice a creative insight,” Schooler told The Boston Globe.

So do allow yourself time to daydream, but try to take advantage of it while it’s happening. Something as simple as keeping a notebook handy to jot down creative ideas or inspirational moments as they come up may help you to solidify ideas and new connections.

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You can also help your mind get into “daydreaming mode” by simply relaxing, and giving your mind a chance to slow down long enough to wander. Of course, when you're feeling anxious and harried, it can be hard to shift gears into relaxation mode. Sometimes it takes a bit of push to get your mind and body to really calm down, and that's why the staff at Sixwise loves the CD Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit.

In it Mary Maddux has captured the essence of everything she's learned over the years about how to help people relax effortlessly.

It's not a series of instructions giving you yet another thing to do or think about. Instead the guided meditations on the Pure Relaxation CD help you to let go of effort, invoking your body's natural relaxation -- and hopefully daydreaming -- response.

But remember not to take this all too seriously. After all, one of the greatest benefits of daydreaming is that it’s fun.

Recommended Reading

The Crucial Health Value of Play ... for Kids AND Adults

Mind Over Matter: Can You Learn How To Become More Emotionally Resilient?


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 11, 2009 May 12, 2009

The Boston Globe August 31, 2008

gradPSYCH Volume 6, Number 3, September 2008

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