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: