Daydreaming is something that we all do. Although some individuals do so more than others.
So is there anything wrong with day-dreaming? And maybe even more importantly, is there anything good about it?
I don’t know about you but throughout my life, daydreaming has been a consistent partner. Sometimes for the better, but even more often, not so much.
To daydream is to have our minds wander. It is not to be confused with active visualization of events and problem-solving. No, to daydream our minds lead the way. Most of the time it is difficult to notice that we have even slipped into this mental activity.
Our daydreaming is driven by both our natural drive for making sense of our lives, as well as for plotting a path for accomplishing what we desire. In a sense, much of daydreaming comes from our desire to have life be different from what it is. This could be because we are having trouble dealing with stress, we’re highly ambitious people or both.
Mind Wandering can be Bad for Our Happiness.
Another problem that comes with daydreaming is from doing it too often. Even when it is about thoughts that elicit initially positive feelings, according to research out of Harvard.
A researcher developed an iPhone application for participants that randomly pinged them throughout the day. Doing so to ask them brief questions that had to do with their state of happiness, what they were currently engaged in, and if they were paying attention to what was happening.
What they found was that the more the participants of the study daydreamed, the more unhappy they were. The study also makes another point. That is that the more unhappy the participants were, the more their minds wandered.
A vicious cycle of daydreaming and unhappiness can develop if we are not careful. But the research does make the point that it is because of our current unhappiness that our minds wander, not the other way around.
When we find ourselves in a present moment in which we are struggling, sliding into daydreams will likely be more frequent.
Unpleasant Emotion and Daydreaming.
The state of our daydreaming is deeply affected by the state of our emotions. When in a rather pleasant state of emotion we may not feel the need to daydream. We may feel contented to stay in the moment, staying connected with the world around us.
Though as was written above, sliding into daydreams may happen more frequently when the present moment isn’t to our liking.
Life is obviously not always a pleasant thing. The more unpleasant it feels, the more difficult it is to desire to be where we are. Our minds do have the ability to at least mentally take us to another, more likable place. But of course, our bodies are left to hang out here in “reality.”
There is an obvious downside to daydreaming too much. Maladaptive daydreaming is an actual mental health disorder to show that it can get in the way of living a healthy life.
But even though daydreaming comes with some difficulties, there is at least one positive aspect of daydreaming worth understanding.
Creative Nature of Daydreaming.
The daydreaming that we do, isn’t disconnected from our lives. Whether it is about the past, the future, or even the present, our brains are working things out. They are seeking healing from the past and best path to take to what we desire for the future.
Too much daydreaming may have negative effects on the amount of happiness we feel. But daydreaming is also highly creative, meaning that it helps develop and recognize new ways to get things done. Neglecting to reap benefit from this natural process in our brains is just silly.
Our brains are going to daydream, there is no escaping this fact. Daydreaming is going to happen and with the benefits this process can give, we should want it to. What we need is to find a balanced approach to help get the benefit from this natural brain process. As well as for limiting the possible negative effects.
How to Be Responsible Daydreamers.
Being a responsible daydreamer also means being a balanced daydreamer. In other words, a daydreamer that doesn’t allow the activity to get out of control. But also doesn’t completely reject and stay away from its creative potential.
We have a few tips for you to help you find this daydream balance. This will help guide you to the realm of the responsible.
1. Take Care of Priorities.
Often times when we fall behind on taking care of our priorities, stress builds. The more we allow that stress to build up the more we are likely to allow our minds to wander too much.
By taking care of our priorities, we can help ensure that the daydreaming we do is healthy. So when we sit back to relax and allow our mind to wander, there isn’t a backlog of tasks that our minds have to obsess about. This frees our minds creative abilities, making it more likely that we can have a pleasant experience rather than a troubled one.
2. Stay Connected with the Present Moment as much as Possible.
There are plenty of reasons to not want to be awake in the present moment. Maybe the way things are don’t meet our standards. Possibly our jobs or our families are expecting more than we care to deal with.
But by staying connected to the moment throughout our day, when it is time to allow our minds to wander, it will be much more enjoyable.
3. Set Aside Time to let the Mind Wander.
Setting aside time tells the our brains that we are making a commitment. It allows us to know what to expect. There are several physiological benefits from daydreaming. If the areas of the brain that trigger daydreaming know they will get what they need later this evening, they may be less forceful in triggering daydreaming when it is inappropriate.
The same goes for ourselves. Knowing that we have time set aside for letting our minds wander later, will make it easier to stay focused throughout the rest of the day.
4. Being of Guidance to Daydreaming but not Controlling.
To daydream is to allow our minds to wander. Though our minds aren’t wandering if we are trying to make it wander where we want it to.
But if our minds continually wander to places that are overly negative or stress-inducing, it’s okay to gently guide it back on track. For me, I actually say “I love you” to my mind, then give my mind another option. That or I just do my best to ignore what it is trying to show me and allow it to pass.
If it won’t pass we may have to find other avenues to take.
5. If Content is Compulsively Negative, Find Something Else to do.
Sometimes when sitting down to allow the mind to wander, it can my be stuck on rather unpleasant events. In this case it may be best to find something else to do. Maybe this is happening because we aren’t taking care of our needs and priorities, or spending too much time daydreaming outside of our set time. It could also be because our emotional energies are too busy trying to figure something out.
As far as what to do instead, it should probably be something to wear off some energy like exercising or having some laughs with a friend. That or an act that helps make sense of our emotional state, like therapeutic writing, or doing some mindful breathing.
Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We sincerely wish you amazing success in daydreaming in ways that are balanced and responsible. We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.