…proper daydreaming – the kind of thinking that occurs when the mind is thinking to itself – is a crucial feature of the healthy human brain. It might seem as though our mind is empty, but the mind is never empty: it’s always bubbling over with ideas and connections.
So writes Jonah Lehrer in “Daydream achiever: A wandering mind can do important work, scientists are learning – and may even be essential“, an article in today’s Boston Globe “Ideas” section. Lehrer is the author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, a book that explores the workings of the human brain by examining the ways in which creative minds — poets, artists, and others — anticipated scientific breakthroughs through their work.
Lehrer describes the discoveries about the role daydreaming can play in creative problem solving.
Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections.
This holds implications for negotiators and mediators alike. It leaves me wondering how we can encourage our clients or ourselves to utilize this underappreciated tool. Daydreaming may be just what we need when we face impasse or consider our future.
As Lehrer writes,
One of the simplest ways to foster creativity, then, may be to take daydreams more seriously. Even the mundane daydreams that occur hundreds of times a day are helping us plan for the future, interact with others, and solidify our own sense of self. And when we are stuck on a particularly difficult problem, a good daydream isn’t just an escape – it may be the most productive thing we can do.
(Photo credit: Chris Hortsch.)