What seems like a passive pastime can actually have great benefits.
While in school, you might have gotten comments on your teacher’s evaluations saying you daydream “too much.”
But studies show that we spend almost 47% of our waking hours thinking about scenarios that aren’t happening at the moment.
So, why does our brain do this?
The term “daydreaming” was first coined by Julien Varendonck in his book The Psychology of Day-Dreams.
Since then, more research has popped up claiming that the activity is “a cognitive control failure.”
Psychologist Jerome Singer has dedicated most of his life studying the phenomenon. He then identified three types of daydreaming. While two of them could have negative effects, the third one showed to be beneficial.
The first type is “guilty dysphoric” or daydreaming because of our fear of the future. This includes catastrophic thinking.
The next is “poor attentional control” or when a person has difficulty staying focused on present tasks.
The third type, “positive constructive daydreaming,” is the one that could prove beneficial for us.
PCD allows us to think about our futures in a creative and positive way. This could help us in the process of setting and achieving goals.
Philosophers such as Diderot, Locke, and Kant believed that inward reflection is what moves humanity to lead their lives.
As we age, we may come to face cognitive decline. However, PCD can actually thicken the cerebral cortex, playing a role in the health of our mental functions.
Since childhood, we’re conditioned to do away with daydreaming as it distracts us from the present. By the time we’re adults, we may think of it as a useless pastime.
The activity also dwindles as we get older, because it often centers on the future. When we reach a certain age, life starts to follow more of a routine, where the future isn’t so unsure and open anymore.
But daydreaming has shown to reduce stress and anxiety as well as help with problem-solving and enhance creativity. It can also contribute to your happiness, no matter your age.
Monica C. Parker, author of The Power of Wonder, says that “People who daydream are more reflective, have a deeper sense of compassion, and show more moral decision-making.”
These are admirable traits that could benefit not only the individual, but even society as a whole.
Banner image via Pexels by Rachel Claire.