Do you give yourself time during the day to just let your mind wander, or if you catch yourself daydreaming, are you frustrated and self-deprecating?
Unfortunately, it’s probably the latter. In this fast-paced and competitive world, most ambitious creatives feel pressure to be on the clock 24-7. And, after Harvard’s 2010 study stating, “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” it’s no wonder daydreaming end with guilt!
But, we have good news! You no longer have to bathe in remorse when you take a brain break during the day! Designstein is here to free you from active mental marathons and tell you that it is OK to daydream! In fact, it most likely improves your creative thinking (Harvard Schmarvard!).
Loads of old theorists and creators have gone down on paper saying that unconscious processing (aka daydreaming) is crucial to the creative process. These guys include Freud, TS Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and Alexander Graham Bell…and we know how successful their creative processes were.
For example, Freud believed that to improve creative writing, one must do, “the same as the child at play. He creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously — that is, which he invests with large amounts of emotion — while separating it sharply from reality.” (The Freud Reader, 1908).
The free, active imagination of the child can be reborn in our rigid adult minds through the simple act of letting go and letting our minds wander…AKA daydreaming!
[A] piece of creative writing, like a day-dream, is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.
Recently, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a paper titled, “Ode to Positive Daydreaming,” researched and written by Rebecca McMillan and NYU cognitive psychologist Scott Kaufman.
They expand on these notions of earlier thinkers and assert that mind-wandering can not only improve creative output, but bring us happier social lives as well – bonus!
Kaufman wrote a blog post about this paper at Scientific American:
These rewards include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion… From this personal perspective, it is much easier to understand why people are drawn to mind wandering and willing to invest nearly 50 percent of their waking hours engaged in it.
While some daydreaming occurs without our intent, we can allow ourselves the freedom do so, especially now that we know how important it is!
So creative geniuses, disengage one and a while and allow your brain the freedom to wander…but remember, daydreaming is not taking out your smart phone or stalking Facebook…it’s allowing yourself to detach.
Here are some tips on how you can release the guilt of mind-wandering and give your creativity a boost through daydreaming:
- The easiest times to daydream are at night before you fall asleep, or in the morning before you rise from bed. Logic seems to interfere less when you are tired or nearer to the dream state.
- You don’t need to schedule daydreaming…let it happen when you most need the break.
- Find a place where you can be free from distraction. Shut the door to your office and turn off your phone. Sit in a comfortable chair, and in a comfortable position. Don’t daydream in your car – this is a major cause of traffic accidents.
- Let your hands, eyes, body, do what it wants to do. This is not yoga, and not meditation. This is a moment when you just let your mind travel to wherever it wants to go – give your physical state the same freedom
- Music may help shut out outside distraction, but be sure to choose tunes appropriate to your mood.
- Daydreaming should not just involve thinking, but visualization as well. Imagine in color! Act out the scenarios in your mind.
- After you finish, write down your daydreams so you can revisit them later (unless they are x-rated or too personal, of course).
So geniuses, take the time to disengage, and let your mind wander!
Want other ideas to amp up your creativity and improve your design product – check out our killer classes on Creativity!
Read more about the science behind daydreaming here: Brain Pickings: How Mind-Wandering and “Positive Constructive Daydreaming” Enhance Creativity and Improve Our Social Skills” by Maria Popova
Want to get deeper into the subject? Read Scott Barry Kaufman, NYU psychology professor’s book, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined