Daydreaming is classified as a level of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness. Studies show that we all have the tendency to daydream an average of 70-120 minutes a day. It occurs during our waking hours when we let our imagination carry us away. As our minds begin to wander and our level of awareness decreases, we lose ourselves in our imagined scenario and fantasy. Daydreaming is a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake.
Daydreaming is often disregarded and a neglected aspect of dream study. Not a lot of emphasis seems to be placed on our daydreams. They are often overlooked as fleeting and wandering thoughts. However, the meanings to your nightly dream symbols are also applicable to your daydreams. The content in our daydreams are helpful in the understanding of your true feelings and help in fulfilling your goals.
Daydreaming occurs when you are semi-awake and it is the spontaneous imagining or recalling of various images or experiences in the past or
Future. You more or less, let your imagination run away from you. When you daydream, you are accessing your right brain. The right brain is the creative and feminine side of your personality.
Daydreams are often viewed as light-hearten in nature and are no more than silly fantasies or wishful thinking. Actually, the worrying of things can be classified as a form of daydreaming. When you worry, you are visualizing an unwanted or negative outcome to a situation. By repeating these negative images in your mind, you are more likely to make them happen. Next time you start worrying; try to think of a positive outcome.
Daydreams are a form of imagination. In daydreams, the person forms a mental image of a past experience or of a situation that he or she has never actually experienced. Some psychologists use the acronym TUIT (Task-Unrelated Images and Thoughts) to describe episodes of daydreaming. A daydream may be triggered by a situation, a memory, or a sensory input (sight, taste, smell, sound, touch).
The daydreamer may use these mental pictures to escape from reality temporarily, to overcome a frustrating situation, or to satisfy hidden wishes. Almost all people daydream, although the frequency of daydreaming varies considerably from individual to individual. Psychologists estimate that one-third to one-half of a person’s thoughts while awake are daydreams, although a single daydream rarely last more than a few minutes. When the daydreamer begins to confuse the mental images with reality, the daydream is called an hallucination. Daydreaming is generally not harmful, unless the daydreaming episodes interfere with activities of daily living. When the daydreamer’s daily routine is disrupted—a driver misses an exit on the freeway continuously, or a student does not hear the teacher assigning homework—he or she may want to consider whether the daydreams are a symptom of a psychological problem. Although most psychologists view daydreams as generally healthy and natural, this was not always the case. In the 1960s, for example, textbooks used for training teachers provided strategies for combating daydreaming, using language similar to that used in describing drug use. Sigmund Freud felt that only unfulfilled individuals created fantasies, and that daydreaming and fantasy were early signs of mental illness. By the late 1980s, most psychologists considered daydreams a natural component of the mental process for most individuals. Similar to dreams experienced during sleep, daydreams occur in cycles set by biological cycles of temperature and hormone levels (psychologists estimate that the average person daydreams about every 90 minutes), and peak around the lunch hour (noon to 2 p.m.). Daydreaming first occurs for most people during childhood, sometime before age three, and these early daydreams set the pattern for adult daydreaming. Children who have positive, happy daydreams of success and achievement generally continue these types of mental images into adulthood; these daydreamers are most likely to benefit from the positive aspects of mental imagery. Daydreams become the impetus for problem-solving, creativity, or accomplishment. On the other hand, children whose daydreams are negative, scary, or visualize disasters are likely to experience anxiety, and this pattern will carry over into adulthood as well. A child’s daydreams may take a visible or public form—the daydreamer talks about his mental images while he is experiencing them, and may even act out the scenario she or he is imagining. After age ten, however, the process of internalizing daydreaming begins.
It is not unusual for a daydream, or series of daydreams, to precede an episode of creative writing or invention. Athletes, musicians, and other performers use a form of daydreaming known as visualization. As the individual prepares for a competition or performance, he or she forms a mental picture of him- or herself executing and completing the task with the desired successful outcome.
Just as your worrisome daydreams can unwittingly come true via repetition in your mind, you can use it as a tool to your advantage and make positive events happen. You can utilize daydreams as a technique to visualize what you want and hope to happen. It is said that many athletes, musicians and business leaders utilize daydreams to envision success. They anticipate or imagine landing the perfect jump, closing a deal, or making that hit single. Tiger Woods, for one, has said to use daydreams to improve his golf game. You too can utilize daydreams for something as simple as studying for and acing the next test or for landing that job.
Positive daydreaming is healthy. It serves as a temporary escape from the demands of reality. It is also a good way to release pent up frustrations without physically acting them out. All to often you worry about your job, your family, finances, a relationship, etc. It is a way to leave the world behind and ponder about what could’ve been or should’ve been. It relieves stress, improves attitude, fosters creativity and refresh the mind, body, and spirit.
Daydreams are the most common form of altered consciousness. Consciousness is simply our level of awareness of what’s going on around us and in us at all times. It is a level of our alertness. However, our levels of consciousness are often changing throughout the day, most often without us even having a choice in the matter. The brain likes to do things on its own quite often.
Sleeping is an altered state of this alertness, and thus an altered state of consciousness. Whenever we enjoy an alcoholic beverage—yes, even just one—we have altered our consciousness. If we are addicted to nicotine in any of its forms (smoking, chew, vaporizing), we are altering our perceptions, and thus our consciousness, each time we use it or any mind-altering drug, for that matter. It is our daydreams, though, that enable us to quickly move into an altered state at almost any time. As a matter of fact, we can quickly shift from alert consciousness to wandering daydream in the blink of an eye. All we have to do is remove some of our alert attention from the outside world and sail away into daydream and fantasy. Psychology has many ways of defining human experience. When we developed the proper tools for imaging the brain while it functioned, scientists discovered that certain parts of the brain kicked in when the subject of the experiment was not focused, or concentrating, on the tasks required. It didn’t take long for it to be recognized that certain parts of the brain (limbic system, frontal cortex, and sensory cortexes) lit up like holiday lights when the subject was allowed time to let his mind wander. In other words, scientists identified the default network that kicks in when the brain is not required to focus and concentrate on a task. This allows us to focus on internal factors such as planning and escaping pressures and stress. So daydreaming has a biological component, as psychological elements seem to do, but there is also the mental component that defines it. Daydreams are not typically a complete exclusion from the outside world but are a focus inward on our thoughts and imagined experiences. They are an altered state of alertness/consciousness that takes us away from pressures and stress; some would call this escapism. Studies have determined that prisoners in penitentiaries and jails often use daydreaming as a means to retreat from the reality of prison life. Sometimes they do this willfully, and at other times, the mind just seems to want to wander away from reality all on its own.
Daydreams can incorporate sensory information as well. We can imagine how food smells and tastes, the sounds of our favorite band, or images of whatever fantasy we find suitable to the purpose of the daydream. A psychological term for this effect of detachment, of turning away from reality in favor of a daydream, is dissociation. Well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud referred to daydreams as a tool to experience repressed desires and instincts that weren’t acceptable in our waking world.
There are 4 practical ways you can put your brain’s default network to best use for you:
1. Tune out your default network when you need to focus. Your best chance to learn something new comes when you deactivate the network. If you feel your inner thoughts are crowding out the new information, take that extra step to turn down their volume.
2. If your daydreams are bothering you, change them. We know from the Mar study that people who daydream about unobtainable relationships feel unhappier and less satisfied. As difficult as it may be, try to fantasize about the relationships you now have or those that you might reasonably be able to start in the near future.
3. Use your daydreams to help, not hurt, your memory. From the Delaney study, we learned that students who daydreamed about faraway places or situations had poorer memories than those whose daydreams stayed closer to their current realities. If you use your daydreams to elaborate on your experiences now, you’ll have a better chance of remembering those experiences in the future.
4. Don’t stifle your creativity, but don’t let it interfere with what you need to know. Creative people seem to be more likely to engage in flights of fancy, as the Takeuchi study showed. Before you let your imagination run rampant, make sure you’re paying enough attention to what is going on around you to get that information to stick in your long-term memory.
Your daydreams can mold your memory, your attention, and even your happiness within your relationships. Daydreams may be the stuff of your brain’s default network, but they can also prove to be the source of your personal fulfillment.
Daydream Themes – What you daydream about is indicative of what you may be really feeling and reveals your unconscious thinking. Below are some common themes:
Disaster: When you envision the worst-case scenario about a situation, you are experiencing a disaster daydream. Such daydreams reflect your worries and fears. Next time you start daydreaming about something terrible happening, imagine something positive instead. Eventually, you will train yourself not to worry so much about whatever fears you keep imagining.
Escape: Daydreaming about exotic getaways/adventures or faraway lands, suggests that you may be feeling stuck in the same old routine. You want to try something different or uncharacteristic of yourself. You may also be feeling overwhelmed, stressed out or are looking for some sort of escape. Take some time to for some relaxation.
Glory: Daydreams about heroic acts indicates that you are looking for attention and/or respect. Perhaps, you are feeling ignored or powerless in your real life. This daydream may serve to motivate you.
Love: Thoughts of falling in love or being in love is a common daydream subject. It suggests that finding love is one of your immediate goals. Consider your actions in your daydream when you find love. If you are seeking love to make others jealous, then it suggests that you are also looking for a status symbol. You maybe craving attention.
Revenge: Daydreams about revenge may serve as a safe outlet for you to relieve your anger toward someone. Having these daydreams on a regular basis may be a strong indication that you will act on your thoughts.