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Laurie Block Spigel

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The Value of Daydreaming

Articles and Scientific Studies about Daydreaming * Books on Daydreaming for Children * Books on Daydreaming for Adults

Children are often told to stop daydreaming. It is seen as reckless mind wandering, a sign of lack of focus, or worse: laziness, procrastination, and avoidance. Parents may feel at odds wanting to allow their children to be playful and relaxed, yet having an arduous schedule to maintain. I remember rushing my son to get dressed in the morning, watching him pull a sock on one foot before I went off to get myself ready, and returning fifteen minutes later to see that same sock still halfway up that same foot. What had he been doing? He had no idea!

Of course he was lost in daydreaming, staring out the window, perhaps still half asleep. It's hard not to be impatient when we have so much to do, but daydreaming turns out to be an essential skill, an important ingredient in our productivity. There are several scientific studies that back this up. Think for a moment about what daydreaming is. It is a deeply relaxed state of mind, a time when the mind is allowed to wander. It appears to be a period of inactivity but actually our minds are deeply active. In order to solve a problem or create a work of art or plan a home or business, we must first get the idea, and that idea often comes from a deep unknown place within our own psyche. These ideas may surface in our dreams, or when we least expect them.

I find that my best ideas occur just after waking, in meditation, and in the shower. They also come up when I am doing a rhythmic activity or chore, like taking a walk, swimming, or cleaning my house. When I don't have to stay intellectually focused, my mind can wander. It can delve into the archives of my memories and associations and come up with new ideas that can later be put into practice. What would we do without daydreaming? Not much! Don't take my word for it, check out these articles and scientific studies. Or try it yourself. When you have a problem to solve, take a break first, or, as they say, sleep on it.

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Articles and Scientific Studies about Daydreaming

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Books on daydreaming for children:

  • Dreams, by Peter Spier. Did you ever lie on the grass and look at the clouds to find images in the sky? This book without words will inspire you to do it again!
  • And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, by Dr. Seuss. A favorite book from my childhood, describing the daydreaming fantasies of a child walking home
  • Dreams, by Ezra Jack Keats. The story starts with a paper mouse and a boy's imagination
  • Dream Big, by Ian Falconer. The ever-popular Olivia the Pig dreams big dreams. The images are paired with wonderful quotes about the power of imagination
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Books on daydreaming for adults:

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