Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daydreaming Blog Now on

Hey everyone--I have been invited to be a regular blogger on, so I will be doing all my current posts on that site. Please change your bookmarks, etc., and visit me over there!

The new blog is called The Power of Daydreaming---hope to chat with you there. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Aha" Moments Caught on "Tape"

An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Robert Lee Hotz reports on research that has "caught on tape" the moment of insight that comes to us in a daydreaming state of mind. “…EEG recordings revealed a distinctive flash of gamma waves emanating from the brain’s right hemisphere… of a second before a volunteer experienced their conscious moment of insight,” writes Hotz.

What’s more, the moment of insight was associated with a change in alpha brain waves in the visual cortex, which also jibes with what researchers know about the daydreaming state. The brain enters an alpha wave state while daydreaming, which is a more relaxed state of mind, and when daydreaming we can envision things, in other words, we can see with the mind’s eye. According to the researchers, these calming changes brought to us via our daydreaming state of mind helps to “quiet the noise” so that we can experience the answer or connection.

What’s weird, according to the researchers, is that the moment of insight seems to happen before we’re even consciously aware of it. That’s why the answer seems to come out of nowhere, but actually, we’re accessing stores of knowledge, memory, and experience unavailable to us when we’re focusing/struggling/concentrating. And thus—the supreme value of the daydreaming state of mind.

We owe a great debt to psychologists who started the research on daydreaming but it appears that the neuroscientists are taking us to the next level when it comes to understanding the mechanics of daydreams.

What's your experience with "aha" moments?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Have a question about daydreams? Looking for a great book club selection?

If you have a question about daydreaming in general or your own personal daydreams, visit my Daydreams At Work website and use the "contact Amy" form to ask any question.

Daydreaming is a dynamic topic for discussion. Make Daydreams at Work your next book club selection, and I guarantee you the conversation will get very interesting very fast. Visit my Daydreams at Work website for a link to the book club discussion guide. In addition, I'd be happy to call in during your club meeting to answer any questions you might have.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drinking, Daydreaming, and the Capacity for Interruption

One of the reasons we can get away with daydreaming so frequently in life and experience its many benefits—creative problem solving, idea generation, conceptualizing—is because the mind has a great capacity for interruption. Generally, we can snap quickly out of daydreams as some external event punctures the dream. In other words, we can respond to what we need to and move in and out of daydreams at lightning speed.

It’s as if the brain has made some bargain— the possibility of an occasional missed cue (i.e., a missed exit sign) for the extra brain power we get via daydreaming. On the whole, it’s a process that seems to work well—with some exceptions as pointed out in new study from my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.

When drunk, not only are we more likely to slip into a daydreaming/mind wandering state, we are less likely to be aware that we’re daydreaming and thus unable or unwilling to snap out of it quickly.

“Some part of the brain has to know what we can get away with” in terms of daydreaming vs. real-world attention, researcher Malia Mason, PhD, told me when I interviewed her for Daydreams at Work, and it looks like this study is getting us closer to that answer.

Jonah Lehrer writes in his science blog about another downside of being unaware that we’re daydreaming—people who are unaware that they’re daydreaming, whether they’re drunk or simply out-of-touch with their daydreaming nature, are less likely to notice when they’ve come up with some kind of creative insight or association, according to researcher Jonathan Schooler. “Letting your mind drift off is the easy part,” says Schooler. “The hard part is maintaining enough awareness so that even when you start to daydream you can interrupt yourself and notice a creative thought.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Daydreams at Work reading/signing at Sacred Circle Books in Old Town Alexandria, VA

An impromtu discussion on daydreaming as I signed my new book Daydreams at Work at the beautiful and peaceful Sacred Circle Books in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Thanks to Shelf Awareness for featuring the signing as the "Image of the Day" in their e-newsletter, a great newsletter that goes out to indie booksellers, libraries, and web booksellers. Thanks!

If you’re in Old Town Alexandria, VA, on Sat. 6/13 Stop by and see me for reading/signing of Daydreams at Work at Sacred Circle Books 5:30-7.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Radio Interviews on Work, Daydreaming, & Motivation

I recently completed two radio interviews related to Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers. On the Work Matters radio show, host Nan Russell and I discussed how daydreaming and work really do go together, and the growing importance of innovation and creativity in the workplace--not just for businesses but for employees as well. It's a fast-changing competitive world out there and as Edison once said, "To have a good idea, have lots of them." And the way to have lots of ideas and to understand the creative process is to begin exploring your daydreaming state of mind.

On Dream List Radio, host Melissa Borghorst and I also discussed how people can tap into their daydreams at work and for work, and also talked about how people can use their daydreams as motivation to achieve their personal and professional dreams.

I used my own daydreaming capacity to prepare for both of these interviews. I went on long walks and runs to put myself into a daydreaming state so I'd be at my creative best in brainstorming potential questions and answers. We do a lot of our creative planning and analyzing while in a daydreaming state. Brain scan studies have shown that this is our most creative state of mind for complex problem solving and envisioning, as we can tap into stores of memory, knowledge, and experience unavailable when struggling for answers in a very focused state of mind.

Read more about it at my site

Friday, June 5, 2009

Top Seven Ways to Dream Better Daydreams

Daydreaming or fantasizing about another life or lifestyle is a great way to explore other options, escape the routines of daily life, and find outlets for intense emotion. But sometimes even our daydreams get stuck in a rut.

Everything you expose yourself to in life has the potential to kickoff related daydreams. That means if you’re watching Speidi on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here,” you may find yourself having Speidi-related daydreams or some other spinoff daydream related to grade Z reality TV.

Movies, TV, music, the news, ads, books….all are fodder for fantasy and influence consciously and subconsciously the choices we make in life. That’s why it’s good to try to trace the source of your daydreams and see if they’re really helping you move in a direction you want or are they just junk food for your brain? Don’t get me wrong—junky daydreams are fun and whatever you do—don’t feel guilty about them. But if you want to expand your daydream material, here are my top seven suggestions:

1) Improve the quality of your movie/TV viewing and reading. More provocative topics will have you thinking more creatively.
2) Try something new—listen to new music, visit an art gallery, go to a comedy club.
3) Travel—even if it’s just a local half-day trip. Travel is a great way to jump-start new daydreams.
4) If you want to be more creative in your job—sign up for trade magazines, meetings, organizations, etc. People feed off each other’s ideas.
5) Exercise. Studies show that you daydream more while moving and that the creativity burst lasts for up to 2 hours after you’ve stopped.
6) Try a fantasy camp—the choices are endless. There’s even a gladiator fantasy camp in Italy. Or volunteer at some job you’ve always dreamed about—like playing with dolphins at the Baltimore aquarium.
7) Be wary of bad news and scary movies—they will definitely spark frightening daydreams. Those have a “planning” element to them, i.e., what would I do if someone broke into my house? But getting stuck in that fantasy rut can make you paranoid.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Daydreaming at Book Expo

I definitely had a dream come true this weekend at Book Expo. I got to sign and give away a lot of books and meet many people who admitted they were big daydreamers and who were finally glad to get the official thumbs up for daydreaming. I've been daydreaming about adding a forum to my website where people can anonymously share their daydreams. I think it would be fascinating. In fact the forum is ready to go, I just haven't summoned the nerve to publish it. It would probably take a while to catch on, but I guess "if you build it, they will come...." What do you think? Yeah or nay? Would you be willing to discuss your own daydreams if you could do it anonymously?

Thanks to everyone who came out to get a signed book. Thanks also to Kathleen, Jean, and Jane for handling the arrangements and to my family, Mark, Gretchen, and Rachel who dealt with some less-than-ideal flights to be there to show their support and to promote Daydreams at Work.

They looked great in their "I daydream at work" T-shirts, which were also great conversation starters. (Photos: I'm signing; my publisher Kathleen Hughes is on the left. Mark and Rachel in the second photo; Gretchen with the sign.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Work and Daydreams Go Well Together...Really

I wrote a guest blog for on how using your daydreaming capacity at work and for work can really help generate ideas and solve complex problems. Your boss may never give you the greenlight for daydreaming....but after reading this article you'll have a much better case!

If you run a business or department, then you need all the ideas you can get. If you can, read the article and let us know what you think.

Also, as a reminder, if anyone is in NYC and is going to Book Expo America, at the Javitz Convention Center, please stop by and see me on Saturday, 5/30, Table 10 in the main signing area, 1:30-2. I'm signing free books, and I'd love to say hello.

Also my daughters will be there sporting these fun T-shirts they made: "I Daydream at Work."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cathartic and Do-Over Daydreams

I think we’ve all had the experience when we’ve been in an argument with someone and then mentally rehash the conversation in a daydream, fine-tuning and improving our performance. In the fantasized version, we undoubtedly make the perfect comeback remark or score the debate-winning point. In these kinds of daydreams we’re analyzing conversations, giving ourselves an ego-boost in the face of a stressful event, and planning how we might better deal with a similar situation in the future.

These kinds of cathartic “do-over” daydreams help us blow off steam and deal with difficult emotions. They let us imagine a different outcome and process information that would otherwise be almost too much to take in. This past April, upon the 2nd anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre—that sad, sad terrible day—I was struck by a Washington Post article about English professor Lucinda Roy, who had the misfortune of having to tutor the killer. Roy has since written a memoir of her experience, No Right to Remain Silent, and of her attempts to get him to counseling and failing in that effort.

Of course, she is endlessly haunted by the tragedy and tries to work it out in her daydreams: “At times, she daydreams she is on the Drillfield on April 16, runs into [the killer] and persuades him to go with her. Perhaps he would kill just her. That would be better, she thinks. ‘Then it would be a tiny tragedy.’”

This is such a human experience, to play out different options in our mind, even impossible options or options we would never choose in real life. We all experience cathartic daydreams—sometimes they’re hostile and vengeful—sometimes they’re do-overs; it’s normal, we’re human, and most of the time it’s nature’s way of helping us deal with difficult emotions--shame, guilt, frustration, anger.

Read more about the different types of daydreams/fantasies/mind wanderings we experience in my book Daydreams at Work, If you have a question about daydreams, leave a comment here or contact me via my website. Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Great News--"Heavy" Daydreamers Are Normal & Imaginative

I can’t tell you how many creative, imaginative, and dynamic people have told me they were scolded by teachers and parents for daydreaming too much. All this despite a number of studies that show that children who are big daydreamers tend to be more imaginative, more creative, and better adjusted because they can amuse themselves with their own inner creations.

A brand new study available in part online but not yet published in The Journal of Research in Personality finds that heavy daydreaming is not related to psychological disorder as some have previously thought, but rather is a normal activity that reflects the daydreamer's imaginative tendencies and enjoyment of daydreaming.

That’s certainly good news for all us heavy daydreamers out there—we may be spacey, but we’re not crazy!

This study was headed by noted daydreamer researcher Dr. Eric Klinger, who I had the privilege to interview during my research for Daydreams at Work. Dr. Klinger has been very kind and supportive as I “bugged” him many times during the writing of Daydreams at Work. He is a wonderful man and scientist who has added so much to our understanding of this very common and important human function. Thank you Dr. Klinger!

I LOVE to hear people’s stories about their experiences with daydreaming. If you have any questions or anything you want to discuss, please visit my website at Daydreams at Work and use the contact form. I’ll get back to you. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Careers, Graduates and Daydreaming

I just got back from my daughter’s graduation at Virginia Tech, and she sent a text message during one of the many speeches joking that a lot of her fellow grads were probably busy daydreaming right now. And I’m sure they were daydreaming about a lot of things—where they were going to party later that night, what they might wear, and how they were going to find a job in one of the most challenging economies.

If you want to work at something you love, don’t ignore the spontaneous thoughts and images that come to you when you imagine yourself at work. Okay, you might not be a rock star, but you could work in event promotion. You might not be an actress, but you might be happy in sales, advertising, or PR.

Start by describing your various job-related daydreams. Do you picture yourself as being busy all the time or do you see yourself sitting in a fancy corner office? Do you imagine yourself working independently or as part of a group? In your daydreams are you traveling? Working inside or outside? What kind of images come to you when you’re daydreaming about different careers? What appeals to you about that particular image or fantasy? Do you fantasize about money, fame, power, talent, skill, helping others? What's the goal behind the goal?

Daydreaming lets you experiment with different lives and different roles—that’s one of their many benefits. Daydreams may not show you exactly what you really want to do, but they usually capture the essence of what you want—to be of service, to be powerful, to live a life of adventure, to be financially secure . . . Whatever it is, don't feel bad about daydreaming. It's your vehicle for exploration.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Study Confirms: Daydreaming Helps Brain Problem-Solve

A new study adds to the evidence that while daydreaming the brain recruits complex regions of the brain, including the "executive network," which is associated with complex problem solving.

The study's lead researcher Prof. Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia is widely quoted as saying: "This study shows our brains are very active when we daydream--much more active than when we focus on routine tasks."

Says Christoff: "When you daydream, you may not be achieving your immediate goal...but your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships."

Focusing has its limits. I'm not anti-focusing. There are times when we MUST focus. When daydreaming, however, you have access to complex brain regions, areas unaccessible when locked in the tunnel-vision of focus. That's why we can suddenly remember something and make new associations and connections when our mind is off task. We can also envision while daydreaming, in other words see mental imagery--a facility unrivaled in its applications to creativity and problem solving.

My book DAYDREAMS AT WORK is ALL about the benefits of daydreaming and how to tap into this creative state of mind for ideas, energy, solutions, and motivation. You can contact me via the form on my website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hope and Daydreams

A former high-school classmate of my daughter is now serving in Iraq. On her facebook page, she writes that “daydreams and music” are the only two things getting her through the ordeal.

We daydream for a variety of reasons, and one reason is they give us hope and help get us through the rough and boring patches of life. This isn’t a small thing. All of us face our challenging days, and without the capacity to envision a brighter future or new goals, life would be bleak indeed.

In addition to the psychological boost we get from these kinds of daydreams, studies have shown that we also get stress relief in the form of endorphins. Pretty powerful stuff courtesy of the humble little daydream.

How do you use daydreaming to help you get through life’s rough patches? Do you have any recurring themes or images?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Dream or Not to Dream

To dream or not to dream....and why would we have to make that choice? But we get conflicting messages on this all the time. We're told to live in the "present moment." Ancient traditions and modern philosophers tell us that being in the moment is the key to happiness. But can we do it all the time? And would we want to? The ability to imagine is the key to creativity, to having the curiosity to see what's around the bend, to creating works of art, and to envisioning possibilities. And we do all this imagining while in a daydreaming state of mind.

My point is we don't have to make the choice. We don't have to pit one against the other---living in the moment against taking off on a daydream now and again. When we understand how our mind works, we can have the best of both worlds. We can learn to live in the present when we want to--when we choose to meditate, or focus on nature, or the presence of someone we love. We can let our minds wander, guilt-free, when we're taking a walk or puttering around the house or doing something else that doesn't require full attention.

Let's stop feeling guilty for having the glorious human capacity to daydream. Focusing is necessary, living in the moment is rewarding, but the ability to dream and daydream is glorious, and we should really celebrate it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Daydreams at Work Is Hot Off the Press

My book Daydreams at Work has just been released. I hope people like it, and I hope it gets people talking about the process of daydreaming. Daydreams have such a powerful effect on us. It's really time we started to accept and understand and celebrate this incredible human function--and I believe this book is a step in the right direction.

It's strange that we hide this aspect of ourselves. In a way, the topic of daydreaming reminds me of the topic of sex and how it was treated as a "forbidden" subject for centuries. Daydreaming, like sex, is an integral part of life, but for some reason, it's taboo, something we snicker at as opposed to celebrate. Well, it's time to get daydreaming out of the closet!

I'd love to hear what you think of the book; if you'd like to discuss it, you can contact me via my website:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Visit My New Website features excerpts, links, and discussion guides from my new book Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers. I plan to add a discussion forum so people can post their own topics about daydreaming and hopefully even discuss their daydreams....anonymously of course! The book will be released in May, and I hope to have the discussion forum up and rolling soon after.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We All Daydream...And That's a Good Thing!

Everyone with an intact brain daydreams, and we spend—believe it or not—30 to 70% of our waking time in various states of mind wandering. When you think about it, this significant amount of time we spend “lost in thought” isn’t that surprising. After all, we humans are a creative species. We get bored easily; our minds wander, and wander in imaginative ways that have moved us in a relatively short span of time from cave dwellers to websurfing, space-age globetrotters. It’s the ability to imagine that propels us. As such, daydreaming is both the engine that drives our imagination, and the nursery where ideas germinate.

The beauty of daydreaming is that it’s a process available to every one of us. Yet most know little about it. In our to-do-list world, we practically worship the focused, directed mind. We laud the pursuit of the quiet mind after wearing it out with stress. Yet we disparage our third state of mind, our most creative, imaginative, problem-solving, energizing, and entertaining mental state—the daydreaming mind.

I’m on a mission to help people get over their feelings of guilt and shame about daydreaming because 1) it’s a natural human function with many benefits, and 2) it’s where you get your ideas and motivation.

So, if you need new ideas for your business, your career, or life in general, and who doesn't?---learn how to tap into your daydreams.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Audacity of Dreams....Or Rather, Daydreams

Barack Obama certainly had a dream . . . that one day he would be president. I’m sure in his younger years that many would have mocked him for such an audacious dream, but thankfully, Obama followed his own inner vision. And what is a “vision?” At the end of the day, a “vision” is just an upscale word for “daydream,” and “visionary” an upscale word for “daydreamer.”

When people say they “dream” of being president or a billionaire or an artist or whatever it is they fantasize about, they are daydreaming those goals, literally envisioning them in their mind’s eye. Take the “day” in daydream away and what do you have—“dream.” While most of us don’t have the ego to think of ourselves as visionaries experiencing grand moments of insight, we can all relate to having daydreams, and we can learn to mine them for ideas and energy.

Daydreams can be powerful blueprints for our life. When we daydream or fantasize about our future, we are mentally imaging events and situations—that is visualizing them—long before they happen. We need to build on our positive daydreams and weed out the negative.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Daydreams at Work Available for Pre-Order

My book Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers will be published in May 2009 by Capital Books.

It's about why we daydream, why daydreaming is our most creative state of mind, and how we can use our daydreams creatively in our work and in our life to generate ideas, problem solve, find motivation, and get energized.

We all daydream. But most of us know nothing about the process. We may even feel guilty for daydreaming even though it's a very natural and incredibly beneficial function.'s time to stop feeling guilty and start exploring your daydreams for their creative potential.

The publisher, Capital Books, is offering a pre-publication discount--30% off pre-orders. Visit or call 1-800-758-3756, and use code DAY531. Or pre-order from your favorite local or online bookstore.

What are you daydreaming about lately? Let me know....