As I sat here looking at the blank screen, my mind wandered off, making stops to ponder the birds at the bird feeder, watching the squirrel lurking on the neighbour’s roof and thinking about what might be prepared for supper.
With a start I looked back at the still-empty computer screen and realized I had been daydreaming again.
After doing some research about daydreams, I’ve concluded, unscientifically, that daydreaming is not a waste of time, but is perhaps a useful pastime for removing oneself from the doldrums of everyday tasks.
My search into the matter of dreaming in the daytime came up with the information that daydreaming boosts creativity and problem-solving skills, helping one concentrate and focus on specific tasks. From that explanation, I’ve determined that daydreaming is a normal habit and that I’m not alone in letting my mind divert off the path. In fact, a study of this behaviour discovered that individuals spend about 47 per cent of their waking time on daydreaming.
No wonder I don’t keep up with housecleaning chores. If I’m daydreaming for 47 per cent of the time I’m awake, then add in the hours when I’m sleeping and having night dreams or nightmares, there isn’t much time left for other duties like cleaning, cooking, meeting deadlines or even texting a friend.
Another research study suggests daydreaming is mostly done by youngsters, teenagers, students or other ages of young people. I did my share of daydreaming during my younger years. While helping to weed our huge garden, I’d sit among the peas and beans thinking how much more fun it would be to go for a bike ride with friends and have a picnic lunch down the slope from the house on the hill. And, I dreamed, wouldn't it be amazing if Dad could design a machine that would weed the garden. We would make a lot of money selling this invention and then we could afford to hire gardeners to monitor the weeding machine.
In class, I was joined by others in staring out the window, watching the buses arrive, and wishing the chemistry teacher would make classes more interesting for those of us who had trouble learning all those useless symbols. When would we need to know the difference between Na (sodium) or CO2 (carbon dioxide)?
My daydreaming, obviously, didn’t stop after the school days and younger years. I’d sit at the city editor’s desk thinking about my future life as a travelling correspondent, filing dispatches from far-flung and difficult to pronounce destinations. Or maybe I’d marry the owner of the company, move to a warmer climate and never have to worry about another deadline. Something woke me up and brought me back to the deadline at hand.
But I did learn that researchers discovered that daydreaming is not a symptom of an inefficient mind. Instead daydreaming shows that some brains might be too quick and efficient to avoid getting distracted. Even better, the study showed that people who daydream might be far more intelligent than counterparts who don’t take time to escape into a daydream.
And the best news about daydreams: they often revolve around pleasant, happy thoughts or hopes and dreams.
Some of my happy thoughts and daydreams:
- Having legs that don’t require compression stockings.
- Turning my red SUV into a red half-ton with a stack of lights and a gun rack.
- Having conversations with family members and friends who have passed on.
- Winning millions in the lottery and deciding how to split it among relatives.
- Building a ranch-style house, with stables out back for horses I know how to ride.
- Adding a dog to the family without Housemate noticing.
- Spending a year travelling to far-away places.
- And best of all, living long enough to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Then I woke up.
Joyce Walter can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.