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Have you ever just sat and allowed your mind to wander? If so, what did you think about it? What images came up in your mind? How did you feel after this experience?
If you have had an experience like this, then you may have been daydreaming. Daydreaming is when you allow your mind to drift to various thoughts or streams of consciousness. As the name indicates it’s similar to a dream when sleeping except, we are awake during the experience.
You may have thought about situations from the past, the present, or the future. During a daydream, a person can have thoughts about a negative or a traumatic event- events that caused sadness, anxiety, or depression. This type of daydreaming is called maladaptive daydreaming because it can make the person feel like they are reliving the negative experience.
However, a person can have thoughts that are positive or memories of happy events. This is the type of daydreaming that can cause a person to smile or have feelings of euphoria and joy. This is positive daydreaming because it causes feelings of happiness.
During a daydream, a person can also have a visual experience as they may see the event that they are thinking about in their mind.
For example, if a person is thinking about eating ice cream, they may think about how delicious ice cream tastes. They could imagine themselves walking into their favorite ice cream shop and may smile at the thought of seeing their favorite ice cream flavor. They could even have a physiological reaction as their mouth may salivate just by thinking about eating the ice cream.
Daydreaming can have both negative and positive effects depending on how it is used. Since daydreaming is a form of mental detachment from the present, external environment, it cannot be done for long periods. Too much daydreaming would impair a person from normal functioning.
For example, if a person is daydreaming while driving it could cause them not to pay attention to stoplights and cause them to have a car accident. Or if a child is always daydreaming in class instead of paying attention to their lesson, they could fail the class. So, it’s important to daydream in moderation or when a person is not doing important work.
Daydreaming can also increase a person’s anxiety or worry. For example, if a person is constantly daydreaming about traumatic memories from the past or fearful thoughts about negative events that could happen in the future, they could create negative emotions in their present life.
The interesting thing about daydreaming is that we have control over what we daydream about. Since daydreaming invokes the creative section of our brain, we create a movie in our minds. Just like when we watch a movie, we can invoke various thoughts, feelings, and emotions depending on the plot of the daydream.
Daydreaming can also be used as a tool to have positive outcomes and help a person have happy experiences. Being intentional about daydreaming can have dramatic positive results.
Below are a few of the many benefits of intentional positive daydreaming.
When you daydream about accomplishing a goal or having a specific success it can cause the mind to believe that it’s possible. Intentionally allowing yourself to daydream about a happy life outcome can motivate you to do the work to achieve your dream.
Daydreaming has been shown to activate the parts of the brain that are used during a creative process. So, when we allow ourselves to daydream, we are more likely to boost our creativity in work or life.
When we give our mind a break and let our thoughts wander without judgment, we open ourselves to thinking of all possibilities. This in turn opens us up to thinking through possible solutions to problems because in our daydreams we can take off all external limitations.
Daydreaming is a very quick and easy way to boost joy and optimism. If a person is intentional about spending time visualizing something that makes them happy, they can change their mood.
I’m not saying this is a cure to clinical depression, but I do think that if a healthy person is having a day where their mood is a little low, daydreaming about a happy event or a future goal can help lift their mood.
Sometimes we all just need a break from boredom and daydream can do just that. As I stated previously, daydreaming is like watching a movie in your mind. So, if you are bored you can give yourself time to daydream a fun experience just to relieve boredom.
As an avid daydreamer, I can personally attest that intentional positive daydreaming can help you achieve personal goals. The key is to not overuse daydreaming. Set time aside in your day to just sit and daydream about what you desire.
For example, if you are going for a walk in the park, use that time to daydream. Let your mind wander but make sure you keep yourself focused on positive thoughts. What are you wearing? Where are you living? What is your lifestyle like? Who is in the vision with you?
Don’t limit your daydream, just focus on all possibilities without limitation. Take it a step further and write in your journal what you daydreamed. Your daydream may be the next life goal that you achieve.
Most importantly don’t daydream about negative events or sad memories. Positive intentional daydreaming should motivate and fuel you, not bring you down.
Allowing yourself to daydream can be a wonderful experience. Just be sure to be intentional about keeping your daydreams positive. Don’t daydream too much to the point where it impairs your daily function or limits your normal activities.
Be mindful to not allow your daydreams to spiral into negative, sad thoughts. As long as you maintain control of your daydreams and use them to your advantage, you will experience the positive benefits of daydreaming.
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Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love