Here you go….. cashing in your winning $1,000,000 lottery ticket…being elected class president. Oops! You’ve been caught in the middle of a daydream.
Whatever you call it…zoning out, escaping to la-la land, letting your mind wander to a better place…it’s all a necessary part of life. Daydreaming keeps our minds active while helping us cope with reality. Most people might not agree but our waking fantasies are part of what makes us human. Like night dreams, they reveal our inner workings. They do no harm as long as they stay in our own minds. And the temporary reprieve they give us from reality can also be an effective means of preparing us for some upcoming critical situation.
Daydreams pop into our heads when we bump into a word or picture that reminds us of a current concern. Automatically we store it in our memory. Then we elaborate about these goals or wishes, brainstorming about different solutions for what’s on our minds.
Is daydreaming good for us? For many years daydreaming was associated with laziness. Some even believed it was a symptom of mental illness. Current research shows that people given to fantasy are more lively, concentrate better, are more attractive to others, show less fear and are generally more joyful. It seems to be a natural way to use brainpower efficiently.
Can daydreaming ever be harmful? Like everything in life, if it is done often or too intensely, it can wind up us in trouble. Obsessive daydreaming can be a sign that one is hiding from reality. Also, because fantasy beats the real world in fabulousness, chronic daydreamers are often disappointed in life. If all we do is live in that daydream without changing our behavior, than our time spent as a space cadet is counterproductive. The idea is to let these mind wanderings move you forward and motivate you to take positive action.