Who has time to daydream these days? If I even just start to think about daydreaming, my head hurts. Not because the thought is stressful, though. It’s the knowledge that if I’m daydreaming, that means something’s not being done.
Between my two kids and an (almost) full-time job that I do from home, how could I possibly justify standing around and daydreaming? Not to mention the fact that it was basically drummed out of us at school, anyway.
While the way society works these days has bountiful benefits, it also has its setbacks, too. One of these setbacks is driving us to do more and be more. It’s not enough nowadays for me to just be a busy mum of two at home – I’ve got to hold down a job as well (actually the property market is to blame for that).
Needless to say, I can’t see myself putting the kids in front of a movie, closing the bedroom door for a minute, sitting down on the edge of my bed and daydreaming. My chaotic mind that never stops would inevitably drift to the washing, or the dishes, or the rubbish that needs taking out. There’s definitely no time in that packed mind of mine to wander off through the meadows of a daydream, and pretend none of it is beckoning me back to my overwhelming reality.
Then there’s the smartphone issue, too. I could write a book about my self-righteousness when it comes to my phone. I only use it for work. I’m writing down my shopping list. I’m looking up the weird rash that Millie has on her arm.
We all know that’s a load of crap, though. Like most people these days, I use my phone more than I need to. Which means that if I’m waiting in line at the bank or have a spare moment on the toilet, I’m going to look at it. I’m not going to be doing any daydreaming.
However, there happen to be some experts out there that think we should be doing the opposite. Dr. Fiona Kerr of NeuroTech believes that daydreaming throughout the day can have an incredibly positive impact on your brain and your life.
With extensive experience in the field of the mind – over thirty years – Dr. Kerr has compiled all of her research and managed to whittle it down to two words: look up.
Her most recent paper explains all about the benefits of people putting down their phones for a second and looking up instead, whether it’s into the eyes of a loved one or for a few moments of daydreaming.
She says that it can change how our brain works, and alter our perspective, encouraging us to think about more important issues as well as thinking more on a long-term kind of level.
She talks about how looking up not only lets our brains improvise, but it also helps us to bring our thoughts into captivity, and maintain a more focused mind. This means that in the long run we actually become better at thinking.
This is because when we are daydreaming, our brain is actually hard at work. It is whirring away in there making all kinds of different connections between seemingly abstract, fragmented thoughts.
Interestingly enough, when we are looking at our phones, different parts of the brain are being activated, and these parts are responsible for increasing distraction, inattention and working to block abstract thinking.
Dr. Kerr continues by saying that we are now figuring out how our brains can be molded, depending on what we are paying attention to and what we're reinforcing with our minds. This is because the brain is continually evolving, making new connections and memories. This means that we are much more in control of our minds than we may think.
Well, I for one am mind blown by this. Living in a society that tells me I need to soak up every minute, it’s incredibly hard for me to sit down and let my brain lead me away from it all. With people like Dr. Kerr and her research, I feel a lot better about doing such a thing.
Maybe next time I’m at a red light or waiting to pick up my eldest from daycare, I can just let my mind wander away for a few moments. I’m sure the people behind me would be more than obliging in letting me know when it’s my turn with a polite toot.
If you’re interested in finding out more about daydreaming your day away and mindfulness, check out 10-Minute Mindfulness by Barrie Davenport and S.J. Scott. These guys have taught me a lot about slowing down, calming down and living for the moment. Thinking about what I’m going to feed my kids for dinner for the next three nights can wait for a bit.
Subscribe for more streamlined tips to cope with this fast-changing world. Where would you do your daydreaming? Let me know!