The Power of Daydreaming

by Michael Haberman on November 2, 2011 · 0 comments


 Do you have any employees who have been chastised for daydreaming? They got accused of wasting time? Well the next time that happens you may want to point out to the employee’s manager he/she may be punishing their smartest and most creative employee.  

I consider Harvey Mackay to be a mentor of mine. I have never had a mentoring session with him, though I have met him a couple of times. My mentoring sessions are listening to those presentations and reading his books. He was the final speaker at a conference I attended recently. His talk was full of power packed ideas. But one jumped out at me and reminded me of the power of daydreaming.

Most of us have heard the saying “An idle mind is the workshop of the devil”. (If not click on the saying for an explanation.) And as stated above we often tell daydreaming employees and children to stop wasting time. Research has shown however, that it is not a waste of time. In fact it may be the biggest spark of creativity and highly related to your intelligence.

Science writer Jonah Lehrer says “Instead of being shackled to our immediate surroundings and sensations, the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings and interesting counterfactuals. As a result, we’re able to envision things that don’t actually exist.” Pretty powerful stuff. Additionally he says “It turns out that cultivating an active idle mind, or teaching yourself how to daydream effectively, might actually encourage the sort of long-range neural connections that make us smart.” In his blog The Frontal Cortex he discusses  the work of Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli and John Gabrieli of MIT who outline some interesting new research on the link between resting state activity, which is the performance of the brain when it’s lying still in a brain scanner doing nothing but daydreaming,  and general intelligence. In their article Idle Minds and What They May Say about Intelligence they conclude “…the strength of long-distance connections in the resting brain can be related to performance on IQ tests. We are often impressed when people make creative connections between ideas – perhaps long-range connectivity in the brain empowers such mental range.” To get the details you need to read the article.

I want to bring us back to my mentor Harvey Mackay. One of the things he said in his presentation was “Look out the window and think BIG and BOLD.” I am not sure how big or bold I am but some of my best thoughts come in idle time. Perhaps we should not only allow daydreaming but we should encourage it.

Daydream and excel!

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