Is daydreaming a distraction from work, or work a distraction from daydreaming?Marty Rubin
It’s Friday happy hour. The waiter brings over the shishito peppers, which are bright green and blistered from roasting. We’re just finishing our patatas bravas, which taste just like the ones we sampled for the first time at Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel. My boyfriend and I were missing Spain, so we’re having some couple time at our favorite Spanish restaurant.
Except we’re not. It’s March 31, 2020, and we were never near our favorite restaurant because of the you-know-what-virus. Nevertheless, I enjoy daydreaming about such times. It gives me hope and helps me look forward to when life will (hopefully) start feeling more normal again.
For most of us, daydreaming happens when we subconsciously pull ourselves away from boring activities, like a self-imposed quarantined in my tiny apartment. We spend half our waking moments daydreaming, and it can provide us with significant benefits:
1. Achieving Goals
Research suggests that half of our thoughts are daydreams. Why not take advantage of this opportunity? Daydreaming can motivate us to work toward our goals. When we’re focused, we’re better equipped to achieve what we want. It’s possible to be that focused while daydreaming.
When I get bored and frustrated, I sometimes let my mind wander to a time when I will be sipping my morning coffee under the awning of my RV. In this scenario, I’m not censoring my thoughts or coming up with reasons why I won’t be able to afford my RV. Instead, I come away feeling recharged and more focused on my goal.
2. Being Creative
Daydreaming kindles our creativity. The break from reality can help us ride a stream of consciousness without the tedious external distractions. In fact, we do some of our best thinking when our minds drift toward imagined scenarios and self-reflection.
When you’re staring down a problem, give yourself permission to zone out. It might be a good time if you can pull yourself away from your mundane task and focus on something more substantial.
3. Solving Problems
When I’m facing a big problem, my initial instinct is to not even think about it, which is typical for most of us. Daniel Goleman, the emotional intelligence pioneer, claims that while our minds wander away from practical thoughts, we might be drifting toward a consideration of the problem during daydreaming.
4. Staying Connected
Daydreaming helps us stay connected with people important to us but out of reach. Many of our desires and goals center around relationships, sex, and love. Research shows that a majority of people report that their daydreams include other people in their lives.
Right now, it’s hard to be isolated from the people in my life, especially my boyfriend. When I’m not texting with or talking to him, I imagine what my boyfriend might be doing right now. Maybe he’s listening to music and bouncing his head to the beat like those bobble-head dogs in the back of an old lady’s car. Cute.
A final caveat . . .
Despite the benefits of daydreaming, don’t let it get away from you. Daydreaming during reading can make it more difficult for you to comprehend what you’re taking in. It can also mess with your mental health and happiness if you’re daydreaming about things you think you’ll never achieve.
Nevertheless, not all daydreaming means a lapse in attention. Whether you want to achieve a goal, be creative, solve a problem, or tackle loneliness, daydreaming can recharge you and get you back on track. It can also give you something to look forward to when things finally get back to normal.
Let us know daydreaming gets you through the tough times. Don’t forget to like this post!