“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
I found this interesting article and news item recently. I used to have a partner who was extremely critical and who micro managed me when we worked together. Amongst many things he didn’t understand me. When I taught at university in the Creative Industries we taught about creative people and how they operate differently to other people.
Creative people can be extremely creative for a few hours a day and then may need daydreaming time to allow this to be activated later on in the day. Or possibly the next day. If creative people are given space to be creative, they will be extremely productive for a few hours and then may need to not focus so much for the rest of the day. In doing this, though they produce very creative, innovative products, solutions or art.
However, recent studies have been examining daydreaming and its effect on us and its positive benefits. I thought it was worth sharing with everyone. In her article called “The 3 Scientific Benefits of Daydreaming” written last August 20, 2018, Annabel Blake who is a Researcher for UNSW Science of Innovation Lab and summarises some of the findings.
Blake writes there are three main benefits to allowing ourselves to daydream during the day. This is also called mind wandering and she states that researchers estimate we do this 30-50% of our days.
Daydreaming can help to focus and be motivated for our future goals
Blake writes that Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at NYU says that fantasizing about achieving our goals assist to spur motivation on and keep us committed. Dr Oettingen states that by reflecting on reality and comparing it to fantasies about a desired future outcome, we are compelled to act. In other words, imagining the fulfilment of a dream she argues will lead us to being extremely committed to achieving this. Using our imagination we can stimulate our motivation and our action. Instead of thinking that daydreaming is useless it is actually very useful.
Blake (2018) also writes that Freud believed in the power of daydreams, that they represent “the human desire to alter the existing and often unsatisfactory or unpleasant world of reality.” She states also that studies have discovered mind-wandering that focuses on future planning, and tangible steps to reach the goal, help us to better prepare.
Therefore daydreaming a few times a day and imagining future possibilities can be important for your planning of what you wish to achieve.
Daydreaming improves creativity
Mind wandering has been shown to light up connections across a series of interacting brain regions known as the default mode network (DMN). Studies have suggested that creative thinking is enlivened when this part of our brain is activated. The DMN helps us to connect associated ideas, also known as creative ideation. This process can lead to a steered actionable response. In fact, people who daydream demonstrate increased connectivity between these two networks.
This means If you daydream your ideas out, then you are more likely to come to an actionable outcome.
Daydreaming promotes patience, helps decision making and improves achievement…
Studies have shown that adults who were tested with how long they can wait for a delayed reward, rather than settling for a smaller immediate reward. Research found that people whose minds wanders tend to be more patient, and then make better decisions. This could be because daydreaming allows us to escape everyday discomforts of real life, which allows us to withstand frustration in waiting for a delayed reward.
This may be because daydreaming allows us to escape the discomfort of real life, meaning we can withstand the frustration of waiting longer for a reward. This kind of escape also reflects memory consolidation mirrored in sleep. Researchers also found that taking a break between training tasks to let your mind wander, meant that the people studied performed better on the task on the following day than those who focused the whole time.
The take away from this is that it is okay and positive to let your mind wander. 🙂 Don’t let people tell you, you are wasting time.
Similarly, in an article by Sarah Berry in the Age and The Sydney Morning Herald (2017) found that a study in Georgia Institute of Technology showed that daydreaming improved creative and cognitive ability of those who were tested.
In this study, they took 100 participants and scanned their brains while they stared at fixed points for five minutes. After this, the participants completed tasks measuring creative and cognitive ability and completed surveys about how often they daydreamed daily. Those whose mind wandered scored more highly on creative and intellectual tests and had more efficient brain patterns.
Co-author, associate Psychology Professor Eric Schumacher said that people with “efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.”
So this research shows that if you are allowing your mind to wander, roaming and imagining, and even resting from the pressures of daily life, then you are the opposite of ditzy, you are actually sharp intellectually and creatively. In the end you will be able to achieve your goals, and dreams in a more effective way than those who don’t allow their minds to roam. Don’t let anyone tell you, you are ditzy or vague, cause these things allow your mind to focus when it needs to. We should allow our minds down time, just like we allow our bodies downtime. We need this rest to pursue that which we wish to either create or achieve or accomplish in our lives. All of us have different desires in life. Either way, daydreaming is going to make our lives better, by allowing our minds to rest and relax and even enjoy roaming!
Go well and happy dreaming!