We can't deny the fact that we are living in a society that vehemently supports productivity and constructive action. There is a sort of obsession with achievement and performance to an extent that any individual found daydreaming or sitting idle is regarded to be a loser. In fact, being called a daydreamer is considered to be negative in this modern world where we all are hell-bent on working every waking moment of the day. Since the fast paced urban life has left us with no choice but to adjust with the present day work ethics, it is not surprising that daydreaming is looked upon negatively.
Daydreaming (usage as a noun and a verb)
- A series of pleasant thoughts that distract one's attention from the present. (Oxford Dictionary)
- A pleasant visionary usually wishful creation of the imagination. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
Many articles published in the esteemed 'Psychology Today' magazine have time and again stated the creative benefits of relaxing, daydreaming and being lost in our dreams, where our imagination springs from the deepest parts of our consciousness, giving us the energy to refresh our brain while it is choked up from the daily monotonous chores of living. So, a little mind-wandering to really feel the dreams that you want to live in life isn't so bad as pictured in the society. Let us understand the positive aspects of daydreaming more closely.
Say, John, a high school student, is reprimanded by his Maths teacher to "stop daydreaming and pay attention in the class". Now technically, the teacher is right for rebuking John, as it is John's duty to concentrate on the subject at hand, and not drift away thinking of something else. But, there is more to daydreaming than it being mere drift in thoughts. Let us assume some possible reasons why John daydreams in his Maths class:
- John isn't interested in Maths. (He is more engaged by English, but Maths simply turns him off.)
- John loves sports and so is casual about studies. (He is a basketball freak and dreams being the NBA star.)
- John is thinking of a girl who he thinks is his potential date. This indeed is a common reason for lack of concentration among youngsters.
- John has some family problems. (John's parents are divorced and lack of love at home has crippled his confidence making studies boring for him.)
- John is just a habitual reckless prankster who loves to disturb his teachers. (He is a typical naughty guy.)
- And so on...
Now, in all the above assumptions, do you find anyone of them genuinely negative? I don't think except for his 'heedless habitual prankster' nature, all are not inherently negative. The daydreams are the doorways to something more profound and subtle that your mind wants you to do, but you are unable to figure it out. When we daydream, we are often so engaged in our imaginary world that we lose cognizance of time and space. It may be just for five minutes or five hours, but when you're really daydreaming, thinking about the possibility of your living your dream, it makes them appear real. Now, it doesn't matter if the daydreaming is related to partying in Miami with your girlfriend or simply romancing with an idea to become an entrepreneur and be your own boss. So how is, then, daydreaming wrong? Why does society condemn it to such an extent?
Well, the reason for daydreaming being given a negative connotation is that regular and habitual daydreaming often leads to negligence of work or the tasks at hand. Often this happens without the person even realizing that he/she is letting his habit mess with his/her priorities. Such an attitude (read incessant daydreaming) gives us a mental satisfaction, a mirage where we are getting a feeling of living our dreams, but in reality, it leaves us exhausted and inefficient. When we revert to reality, the dreams aren't fulfilled and the things to be attended to have been delayed, making procrastination an integral part of our daily routines, and eventually, our nemesis.
The Golden Rule
Daydreaming can unlock doors to reach your fullest potential, if you are able to listen to your heart and mind, and work in a planned manner. Don't just keep telling your mind that you should 'get rid of daydreaming', as the negation will make it return with more power (remember the basic rule: whatever you force the mind not to do, it does exactly that). Instead, channelize your thoughts. It's all in the mind.
Stop Daydreaming By Being Creative
Now that we have discussed the essence of daydreaming, let us focus on some steps that can help us to get rid of a daydreaming habit that renders us unproductive, inefficient, and wastes a major chunk of our mental energy.
Prioritize Your Life
This is again a broad topic and has been unnecessarily made complex over the years. If you're a student, you need to figure out few steps that really matter for your bright future. Then, you've got to persistently, like a craftsman, engage in daily labor to make those steps effective. If you always think about basketball, well, play, practice, and put your heart in it, when you are in the field, with your coach and teammates. If you are in class, why not focus on studies. It will help you acquire education that can help you get a job, if you don't make it in the basketball world. For a professional, priorities can be providing the family, being a good father, and a supportive husband. Deciding your priorities will help you to maximize your time and effort in every endeavor. Your mind will have a goal and timetable to work upon. Isn't it simple?
Connect with Your (Day)Dreams
If you are resolute to end your daydreaming habit, do this. Set aside some specific time during the day, before going to bed or when you wake up in the morning. During this time, write all your thoughts that wander in your mind frequently on a piece of paper. Daydreaming thoughts occasionally repeat in our minds and they form a pattern. To break it, you need to know them. When you have written them down in a list, think about them creatively. If you have time, write about each of them. You will find remarkable sense of clarity in your thoughts that have been circling in your mind for months or weeks. Once you have written them and are done with your exercise, order your mind to stop thinking about that topic for rest of the day. Gradual practice of this habit will help you filter only those thoughts, dreams, and aspirations that really matter to you.
The human mind wanders when it has no purpose. For students, it is good to make monthly goals as those are manageable and can be monitored. Plan your studies and follow the timetable with flexibility. Here is what Zig Ziglar, an American author has said about goal making: "If you want to reach a goal, you must 'see the reaching' in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal." Now technically, this sums up the role of imagination and conviction to achieve our goals. Irrespective of age, gender, and phase of life, we can make goals to engage productively in something.
Learn to Relax
When told to relax, we go into hibernation, which ruins our past efforts. If you feel that your mind is caught in a rut, take a manageable break. Decide that by the end of your voluntary holiday, you will make up your mind to really get to the root of your mental confusion and solve all questions it has, one by one. The more clear you are in your thinking patterns, the easier it will be to dispel the nagging thoughts.
Stick to Your Decisions
Some studies have proved that our mind is a mechanical organ and it takes at least 21 days to adjust to a new habit. Getting past any poor habit isn't a day's task. It requires 30 days of hard focus to get out of the mental pattern we have formed about any habit. Hence, work out your problem with ease, without worrying too much. Once you get a hang of how you are able to fight negative thoughts and ridiculous daydreaming (that wastes your precious time), you will be on the highway to success, peace, and contentment.
Live in the Present
While this is the most commonly stated phrase in the English language, it is the gist of everything in life. No matter how bad a situation is, we can work towards its betterment only by living in the present. Past lessons can help us to focus on mistakes, but the action, which is most important, takes place in the present. And that, mind you, lays the foundation stone for a better future.
While I conclude this post, I would like to restate my belief in the fact that daydreaming isn't all negative. It is, in fact, a dormant energy and a guide that somewhere has the potential to help us lead a life with more clarity. It is an unrest in our minds that, although quibbles our minds from present reality, has the magic of reminding us what we actually want. So, don't live mechanically now and work upon resolving all thoughts that make you drift away from your current reality. This was my take on daydreaming. Buzzle.com would love its readers to come with their unique experiences and thoughts about dealing with daydreaming.