How Your Daydreams Can Help You Through This Crisis. Part 2: Daydreaming and Creativity. By Dr. Linda Berman

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_The_Day_Dream_-_Google_Art_Project

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The Daydream.Wikimedia Commons.

“Within the branching shade of Reverie
Dreams even may spring till autumn; yet none be
Like woman’s budding day-dream spirit-fann’d.
Lo! tow’rd deep skies, not deeper than her look,
She dreams; till now on her forgotten book
Drops the forgotten blossom from her hand.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

How creative can our daydreams be! Using our imagination, we can travel through our reveries in ways that will help us to come up with solutions to problems and to make new discoveries.

“Daydreaming incubates creative Discovery.”

Daniel Goleman.

“Creative people like to daydream and imagine the possibilities and wonders of the world. They can immerse themselves in imagination and fantasy, yet remain grounded in reality. They are often described as dreamers, but that doesn’t mean that they live with their heads in the clouds.”

Kendra Cherry.

Daydreaming, Boredom and Creativity.

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“Daydreaming.” Augusto Volpini.

This part of the post  links to an earlier, pre-coronavirus post on boredom, but now it takes this theme further, venturing deeper into the realms of daydreams and mind-wandering during this very unusual time in all our lives.

“Every exceptional writer holds a Master of Arts in Daydreaming.”
Richelle E. Goodrich

When we are bored, we may start to daydream as a way of escaping into a more interesting internal world. 

As we let our mind wander, problems that may have troubled us can be solved through reflection and self-awareness.

In my previous post on boredom I quote Sandi Mann, who discusses research into boredom and daydreaming, which has shown that people who are often bored do tend to be more self-reflective.

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She describes research into boredom and daydreaming that indicates just how creative these may be. It can also be a way of reducing stress and tension, which may be all the more important at this time.

“It is this attention shifting that is termed ‘daydreaming’ and is thus a common by-product of boredom. Indeed… research has shown that individuals use daydreaming to regulate boredom-induced tension, this suggesting that daydreaming is used as a coping strategy for dealing with the unpleasant state of boredom.”

Sandi Mann

Through the daydreaming process, we may discover new thoughts and ideas. Daydreaming can be a kind of planning; it can be one of the ways of thinking things through as preparation for future action. Imagining something is an important first step to its achievement in reality.

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“One dreams all day as well as all night . . .”
Ian Fleming

Nietszche would walk for hours in the countryside, daydreaming, thinking, forming new thoughts an ideas in his mind, lost in his inner world.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

Nietzsche

Einstein would go for long walks and then create ‘thought experiments,’ working things out in his head. He knew very well the value of aimlessness, for it could promote real ideas:

“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”

 Einstein

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Einstein.

In his book The Wandering Mind, Michael Corballis points out that physical wandering may also help mind wandering and creativity. He specifically mentions Wordsworth, who ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’ and found much in the Lake District countryside  that inspired him to write poetry.

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“She knew that she had a tendency to allow her mind to wander, but surely that’s what made the world interesting. One thought led to another, one memory triggered another. How dull it would be, she thought, not to be reminded of the interconnectedness of everything, how dull for the present not to evoke the past, for here not to imply there.”
Alexander McCall Smith

Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Woman_Daydreaming_(Rêveuse)_-_BF139_-_Barnes_Foundation

Renoir. Woman Daydreaming. Wikimedia Commons.

“We seek to escape the dark cave of a despondent mind by either dulling oneself mentally or through imaginative acts. One form of escapism is daydreaming.”
Kilroy J. Oldster

Reinhold_Max_Eichler_Herbstzeitlose_1908

Reinhold Max Eichler. Herbstzeitlose 1908. Wikimedia Commons.

“Nothing makes time pass or shortens the way like a thought that absorbs in itself all the faculties of the one who is thinking. External existence is then like a sleep of which this thought is the dream. Under its influence, time has no more measure, space has no more distance.”
Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

When used in moderation, daydreaming  can be a pleasant short-term escape, diverting the mind. It may be important now, during the pandemic, when the media is full of distressing news.

There is, however, a negative side of daydreaming, for, if excessive, it can be a way of avoiding life.

“A certain amount of reverie is good, like a narcotic in discreet doses. It soothes the fever, occasionally high, of the brain at work, and produces in the mind a soft, fresh vapor that corrects the all too angular contours of pure thought, fills up the gaps and intervals here and there, binds them together, and dulls the sharp corners of ideas. But too much reverie submerges and drowns. Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie it’s pleasure. To replace thought with reverie is to confound poison with nourishment.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Daydreaming is something we all do; sometimes we might feel almost cut off from the outside world. If this happens for more than short periods, it can become dissociation, which is a kind of mental disconnection from the external world as a reaction to feeling intensely overwhelmed and traumatised.

The dissociated person will display a kind of absence from the real world. This is very different from daydreaming and is often part of a coping mechanism in response to traumatic stress, linked to PTSD.

If it persists, professional help might be needed.

Books, films, poetry, music…..

Fragonard,_The_Reader

Fragonard. The Reader. Wikimedia Commons.

“A book, whether nonfiction of fiction, is an “invitation to daydream.”
Derek Thompson

The Arts can enhance our daydreams, providing rich material for them. Such a state of reverie can be refreshing, renewing:

I lounge on the grass, that’s all. So
simple. Then I lie back until I am
inside the cloud that is just above me
but very high, and shaped like a fish.
Or, perhaps not. Then I enter the place
of not-thinking, not-remembering, not-
wanting. When the blue jay cries out his
riddle, in his carping voice, I return.
But I go back, the threshold is always
near. Over and back, over and back. Then
I rise. Maybe I rub my face as though I
have been asleep. But I have not been
asleep. I have been, as I say, inside
the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating
on the water. Then I go back to town
to my own house, my own life, which has
now become brighter and simpler, some-where I have never been before….

Mary Oliver (Extract from book below.)

 

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We can also lose ourselves in the melody, rhythm and harmonies of a piece of music, allowing it to trigger feelings, experience and memories.

“I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.”

Albert Einstein

Music can feed the imagination, stimulate thoughts, daydreams and good fantasies. Listen to the theme music from Cinema Paradiso and let its beauty transport you far into your creative world of daydreams………

Cinema Paradiso (1988) composed by Ennio Morricone

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”

James Allen

©Linda Berman.

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