The Mental, Life Benefits Of Daydreaming

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 04/04/2014 | 10:00 AM EDT

There's nothing wrong with having your head in the clouds

Dreamers are often told to get their heads out of the clouds, as they’re generally touted as not being in touch with reality. But what many fail to realize is that daydreaming actually does more good than people would believe. Defined as "a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one's attention from the present," daydreaming allows you to envision things before they happen, and in many ways, helps make them become an actuality.

Some of the greatest leaders from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Nelson Mandela were dreamers, who envisioned a life and a world that did not yet exist. Being a visionary and daydreaming go hand in hand. When one fantasizes about a particular goal, one is quite literally envisioning them in their mind’s eye. Life-altering inventions like the Internet once started out as just a dream. Daydreams help us conceive the things around us and can be blueprints for our personal lives. Whether it’s securing your dream job or someday settling down and starting a family, envisioning them in the form of daydreams helps you get that much closer to making it a reality.


There’s also a mental benefit to daydreaming. According to psychologist and author Scott Barry Kaufman, it can make you smarter. Kaufman argues that while IQ tests are good measures of intelligence, factors like dreams and desires also play critical roles in our cognitive performance. He argues that daydreaming can play an important role in personal adaptation.


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A 2012 study published in the Psychological Science suggested that although daydreaming may seem passive, it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state. Daydreaming often leads to sudden connections and profound insights because it correlates with our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. And in 2011, neuroscientists found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity.


Of course, there has to actually be action applied to one’s “daydream” in order for it to come to fruition, therefore simply thinking about something doesn’t make it any more real. However, it’s important that you engage your mind and allow yourself to dream and wander. That’s how you discover your needs and wants, and it’s how you achieve your greatest desires.


So the next time someone tries to fault you for living up in the clouds, don’t let it phase you...just keep on dreaming.

(Photo: Eric Audras/GettyImages)

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