You’ve heard the negative connotations about daydreaming, right? “Oh, he’s just a dreamer…he’s day dreaming his life away.” Or, “She’s got her head in the clouds.” Or, “That’s just a pipe dream…that’ll never work.” Have you ever heard those kinds of comments when you’ve shared your daydreams with someone?
But, wait. You’ve also heard some positive connotations about daydreaming as well. Listen to agents who have built their real estate dreams into successful brokerage businesses. Listen to Albert Einstein. Listen again to the Beatles’ It’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band again. (It was just re-released to celebrate its 50th anniversary. That album has a lot of great tunes and truths about daydreaming.)
Michael Kane, a psychologist and faculty researcher at the University of North Carolina, recently published a new study about daydreaming. The study measured effects of daydreaming on the ability to execute functions. It turns out that letting your mind wander or allowing yourself to daydream can be a positive activity to help you function more effectively, help spark new ideas and help think through problems.
Kane observed some 275 undergraduates at UNC both in both and out of a lab setting to “…test the content of dreams…” and whether or not those daydreams affected the ability to function and/or remember things in the midst of and/or despite distractions. Effects within a lab setting were essentially nondescript and, in some cases, defined as “neurotic.” (“Neurotic” was not defined.) Outside the lab setting, in the “real” world, however, daydreaming participants affected better functioning skills and better abilities to focus on content when the content called for focus. Also, outside in the real world, daydreaming participants reported to being more “open” to different and/or new experiences.
Since research has been telling us since 2010 that half of us are daydreamers, how can we daydreamers benefit the most from our daydreaming? The author, Scott Barry Kaufman, tells us to think of daydreaming as “autobiographical planning.” Kaufman encourages us to “…picture your preferred setting or environment and your anticipation of actually making your future goals possible. Picture the emotional reactions of yourself and of others in response to these imagined or daydreamed events…” Kaufman thinks that, in the right context, daydreaming is a way to explore the success you could one day have.
Just remember to put your daydreams into action.