The Creativity Cure

A do-it-yourself prescription for happiness

Creativity, Happiness and Daydreaming

Why Daydreaming Is Useful and Good for Your Health.

Created by Chloe Barron's Own Two Hands
Daydreaming enhances wellness, happiness and creativity in our hyper-technological world. 

Daydreaming is good for you.  It fosters creativity, happiness and mental health. But in this plugged-in culture, while you may be connected to the world, you may be disconnected from yourself and the comforting company of your own dreams. You may be so swept up in an array of inboxes that your inner life goes unnoticed or unheeded. Daydreaming, letting your wishes and instincts play out, is so important because the real you– your true, authentic, emotional, free and spontaneous self comes to life.  When you express the true self you are less likely to feel anxious or depressed and more likely to feel creative and content.

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Setting up a situation where you can have undirected as opposed to directed thinking, daydreaming, is one way to tap into creative potential and feel better about living.   Letting, not doing –unfocused cerebral action– allows material to bubble up from the deeper mind: the unconscious. Your unconscious houses seemingly random, but actually rich, relevant material, and if you learn to use it you can go far.  Memories, fantasies, intuitions and inner conflicts that need to be worked through find a place for expression in daydreams.  When your deeper mind opens up, you feel better, see possibilities and uncover solutions. 

 Daydreaming can offer anything from practical answers to a pleasant afternoon in your own head.  A self-generated getaway.  You might come upon the ideal way to resolve a conflict with your colleague.  The opening line for your essay could pop up.  A loving comment from a dear person or a past setting in which you felt solace may come to mind. Finally, with your mind free, you sign up for the guitar lessons you have been thinking about for ten years. Dinner is suddenly a simple task because what’s already in the fridge suddenly makes sense for an original recipe. Ideas surface and your instincts lead to unique innovations.

I just read an article about a chef who had forgotten that people were coming over for dinner in 45 minutes.  He tapped into an improvised, instinctive solution. The soup he created was so good that the recipe ended up in a magazine with scallion topped visuals. 

Daydreaming, because it consists of spontaneous outpourings from your deeper mind, allows you to discover your “Truth.”  What does that actually mean? It means that the Real You comes out of hiding and has a voice.  You have heard from Shakespeare, the Bible and your mother to be true to yourself, but how do you make it happen?  Daydreaming is a good start. Even if you end up crying during a daydream, this can be a growth-producing release.  If you heed your “affect” –that which makes your heart sing or sink, that which brings tears or smiles– you might make some different choices. Daydreaming strengthens the identity, fosters awareness and helps you grow.  You get to be you. Poe said, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream by night.” 

Daydream. Sink into the loveliness of slow time, downtime, nothingness  (boredom is great for creativity) or passivity (we all have “passive longings.”)

While your undirected thinking might lead you to concrete, creative outcomes daydreaming leads to intangible forms of creativity too.  It is useful for your work life.  Daydreams can give rise to an innovative approach to a developing program. You might realize that you can foster harmony in a fractious group through an unusual activity. You could think of a motivating phrase that sparks colleagues to collaborate. I recently heard someone say, “We’re almost at yes.”

Either way, daydreaming leads to useful ideas and lifted moods. Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works is also an advocate of daydreaming.  Unplug for a while, go deep inside your layered mind and see what you’ve got. Who knows where you’ll end up?

 Eudora Welty said, “All serious daring starts from within.”

Carrie Barron, M.D., is a psychiatrist and co-author of The Creativity Cure: A Do-It Yourself Prescription for Happiness, which she wrote with her husband, Alton Barron.

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