Sometimes our minds wander and we find ourselves staring off into space, our thoughts a million miles away.
If this happens to you, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that people tend to drift off to La-La Land about 46.9% of the time that they’re awake! Although many people think of daydreaming as a waste of time, we’re now learning that it can actually benefit us in a number of interesting ways.
For one thing, daydreaming is relaxing and helps calm your mind. Just a few minutes of fantasizing can leave us feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of our work. It also helps with problem-solving. “Structured” or “organized” daydreaming means that instead of just thinking about random things, you concentrate on a certain job or problem and visualize different strategies to solve the problem or perform the task better. Just going through this mental process can help you put those strategies into play and provide real-world results. Visualization really works — try it sometime.
Organized daydreaming can help you effectively manage conflict in your life. How many times have you had an “I should have said” conversation after an argument? This is actually the brain’s way of processing what happened, and it does help you visualize a different, and often better, outcome. Next time a conflict pops up you will be better prepared to deal with it because of the time you spent daydreaming!
Daydreaming also increases creativity. While thinking about winning the lottery may seem like an escape from daily life, it’s actually allowing the higher level of your mind to work out different ideas. Often the best “aha” moments come when you’re thinking of something entirely different. You may have been thinking about ice cream, but your brain was still churning away thinking about more important matters. Daydreaming and imagination go hand-in-hand.
Letting your mind wander also helps your ever-growing brain form new neural pathways that strengthen over time. Quite simply, forming these “brain chains” is how learning happens. Indulging those idle fantasies can help your imagination blossom, which is particularly helpful when you work in a creative job.
So you see, daydreaming is a vital and natural brain state that’s as natural and necessary as sleep and exercise. Next time someone tells you to “get your head out of the clouds,” tell them you’re working on becoming more creative, productive, and prepared for your future. Because you are!
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