Daydreaming is the least understood brain activity and yet it’s the most powerful source of success, according to research psychologists in the US, Europe, China and Japan. This cross-cultural finding that creativity and productivity blossom from daydreaming is especially interesting, because it is almost universally discouraged.
For most of us, the priority at school and work is learning to focus our attention on tasks at hand, including school work, skill building and getting things done. With that emphasis, it’s easy to see why real success, creative solutions and innovation have come from a relatively small number of individuals who naturally go against the grain, or simply won’t follow the rules.
It’s the daydreamers who naturally put together unusual bits of information, fantasy and inspired personal life goals. This mix is the magic amalgam that produces inventions, new processes and big answers to big problems. Positively distracted thinking is the source of solutions for big problems like water shortages, telecommunications problems, and economic hardship. Daydreaming also produces lifestyle enhancements like new forms of art, music and recreation.
How rich is your imaginary life? If you’re not used to the freedom and power of unleashing your imagination, here’s some tips:
1. It’s important that you stay awake when you set your brain free. While it’s true that lots of specific problems are solved after a good night’s sleep, daydreaming produces richer complex ideas. Plus your brain finds personal meaning and motivation that gives you the “oomph” to find ways to implement what you’ve imagined.
2. Paradoxically, you’ll want to practice mindfulness because it is part of jumpstarting your daydreaming. Being able to control your attention or get into the zone when working is a way to gain mastery over your brain function.
3. After a “flow” session, where you’ve been productive, do something menial and repetitive to ignite your daydreaming. You might restock the beverages in the fridge, shelve books according to size, wash dishes, or do anything that takes almost no active thinking. That sets your mind free to associate and generate fresh ideas that unlock your personal desires and potential contributions at work or for your own project.
4. When you’re ready to start, be sure to put yourself in the picture. Imagine your life goals, what you’d like to accomplish long term, what you’d like to be famous for, and what you’d feel happy to be introducing to others. Of course, imagine a positive reception to you and your ideas.
It turns out what seems like inattention or wasting time is actually the brain doing its best work. So ignore the desire or demand to constantly jump from one task to another, or do ten things at once. Take some time for daydreaming every day, and start raking in the rewards of real success.