When was the last time you indulged in a good daydreaming session? These days, whenever there are idle moments in the day when humans would have previously had nothing but their imaginations to occupy them, such as waiting in line at the grocery store or standing in an elevator, our devices keep us busy with distractions and entertainment.
“Our culture keeps us busy,” says therapist and children’s book author Deedee Cummings. “It is a badge of honor to be overwhelmed. And if you are not, you are lazy [and] not working hard enough.”
However, the lost art of daydreaming should be part of our daily lives—practicing moderate daydreaming can reduce stress and boost productivity. It also encourages our creativity which will make us better problem solvers and makes our brain flex its analytic and empathetic networks at the same time, which can help protect our brains from deteriorating over the years.
Here are a few ways that you can start integrating healthy daydreaming into your life:
Settle into being stuck
Many western cultures love to rush. Waiting in a traffic jam or at the doctor’s office tests our patience and makes us feel as though we could be making better use of our time. Instead, Cummings suggests that we reframe these moments as little gifts instead of curses. Use these pockets of opportunity to lean into stillness and allow yourself to appreciate having the time to think rather than fidgeting with your phone.
Some thought-provoking prompts that Cummings recommends are:
- “If I could do anything in the world, what would that be?”
- “What are three things I want to be sure I do before I leave this Earth?”
- “When I was a kid, I wanted to _____. Why haven’t I don’t that?”
- “I am not happy with _____. What would my life look like without this?”
Create a treasure trove
While it may be easy to think of activities you like to do to boost your mood, it may be more difficult to identify things that you like to think about. Often, when we let our minds wander without direction, we tend to begin thinking about our finances, or the tasks on our to-do lists. That’s why there’s value in creating a “treasure trove” of happy thoughts that you can fall back on to bring you joy.
Begin by setting aside time to actively make a list of things that make you happy, such as a happy memory or an event you’re looking forward to. Then, choose a “thinking aid,” like index cards or practicing visualization, and pick a time to intentionally turn these things over in your head, blissfully.
Interrupt our efforts
As it is with most things, daydreaming is about striking a balance. Make sure you don’t sink so deeply into your daydreaming that you let your other responsibilities slide, but don’t guilt yourself for indulging in a bit of a mind wander once in a while. Daydreaming isn’t just for absent-minded or artsy-fartsy people. Getting familiar with our subconscious selves can help us reach our full potential as creative and productive beings.