Have you ever wonder if letting your mind free to whatever it wants it is helpful or not? Is there a line between helpful and hurtful? Studies show some interesting results. It seems that our daydreaming process interferes with our goals, but not how you’d expect. The daydreaming process has multiple aspects and influences different parts of our life, including the way we perform in society.
“Daydreaming is the stream of consciousness that detaches from current external tasks when attention drifts to a more personal and internal direction. This phenomenon is common in people’s daily life shown by a large-scale study in which participants spend 47% of their waking time on average on daydreaming. There are various names of this phenomenon including mind wandering, fantasy, spontaneous thoughts, etc.” – Wikipedia
One of the negative impacts our daydreaming has is over our reading comprehension performance. Actually, this is not a surprise because it happened many times for me to re-read the same phrase over and over again because I couldn’t understand it due to some daydreaming that took place. The second negative impact is that people tend to be less happy when they are daydreaming compared to when they are not, at least that’s what some research shows. The third negative aspect of daydreaming is related to our attention. When we daydream, we’re not really focusing on whatever we’re doing in that moment so our short term performance has to suffer.
The same studies from 2013 show that there are several positive impacts daydreaming has: future thinking, creative thinking, attentional cycling, dishabituation and relief from boredom. Let’s take them one by one.
- Future thinking is positively impacted by the daydreaming process because the latter process allows us to make better plans for our long term goals.
- The creative thinking is improved since we create and live some fantasies and our attentional cycle is also positively impacted because we get to train our focus-switching ability between fantasies, future goals and current tasks.
- Our dishabituation process is improved because we bring more stimuli into place so our known behaviour can evolve based on that.
- As for the relief from boredom, it’s pretty obvious. It’s funnier to show up at work as a dragon slayer than as a simple worker, don’t you think?
Besides these aspects, daydreaming helps us deal with our future problems before we actually have to deal with them, but with the cost of decreasing our mood. We can’t be happy when we think about our problems, but we surely are when we show up with the whole ninja turtles squad to deal with those problems.
How often do you daydream and how is this impacting your life?