Remember the Clouds? The Importance of Daydreaming

March 24, 2020

When is the last time you took the time to fantasize, dream, or wonder? Sometimes we are so busy with our day-to-day crazy schedule and crunch time that we forget there is a great big world out there and all we have to do is imagine more. Visualize how we want to go and where we want to be. Sounds dreamy, huh? Why then, when we have a moment to ourselves, do we grab a device and get lost in someone else’s fantasy? One moment...a half a second, gone! Let’s take this opportunity to stop, take in a big breath, and lookup. Notice the clouds? Ok, stay there. 

I saw the clouds one morning while making coffee. Up early, bustling around gathering all my workplace necessities, computer, all the adapters for said computer, an ample supply of notebooks and folders, snacks, my lunch, water that I would talk myself into drinking later, and now the coffee….COME ON! I recently bought a Keurig with a frother to make lattes at home. Why don’t they just tell you in the disclaimer that there is a reason Starbucks is in business and you are not?

At any rate, now I have a Keurig that produces one slow cup at a time. So impatiently, I looked out the window. At first, I thought of how in a few weeks I would need the grass cut and how in a huff, I got rid of last season’s lawn crew and was behind in finding someone new. But then, all of a sudden,  it happened. I looked up and caught a glimpse of the fluffy pillows of white and I exhaled. It was a clear day and the sky was a welcome shade of baby blue so the clouds just rested there on display. 

I was instantly transported back to childhood when spring was blooming and the grass was turning green and the days were getting just a little bit longer. I can remember laying on my back, the ground still moist. The temp was cool enough for a sweatshirt but I was already pushing summer with short sleeves and goosebumps. I would stare at those clouds getting mesmerized by their sheer size and the thought of what they must feel like and what it would be like to jump from cloud to cloud. So relaxed and miles away in thought. Not sure how long I would lay there, probably until the ants finally found me and persistently asked me to leave. 

No agenda, no rush, no stress. When is the last time you lost yourself to that place? Does it seem like a world apart from here? What happened? Why did we stop daydreaming? 

Is it just a lack of time? Maybe we don’t see the point, we’ve evolved. Or life has thrown us so many curve balls there is no reason to leave anything up to chance, we’ve become jaded. Let’s find out and then find a way back!

As with everything we talk about, a healthy balance is ideal. So to be fair, we will also look at what happens when you spend too much time with your head in the clouds and how even that, could be limiting. 

Daydreaming to me represents slowing down and spending a little more time thinking, wondering, and visualizing the world and you in it. I’m suggesting creating space to grow without the limits and parameters of everyone else’s ideas.

Sure, cop a squat and pick out giraffe and elephant shapes in the cloud, that’s fun too but let’s explore daydreaming in other ways. 

How many of you robot from activity to activity? Time to make the coffee, leaving for work, emails, meetings, lunchtime, more emails, meetings, putting out fires, driving home, take out the trash, time for dinner, chit chat, worry, frustration...whelp time for bed see you again, tomorrow! Autopilot!

I can remember showing up to work and not remembering the drive-in and I wasn’t even daydreaming! I was lost in a cloud of same’o, same’o. If that’s you and your week flies by because you barely noticed it or your week drags because NOTHING ever changes, then it’s time to take the wheel. 

Oh to see the world as a child does. We used to say that thinking yeah, you just wait until you get older and have to get a job and then have a family to support. Now who’s laughing! It’s not about having responsibility or the pressures of life weighing you down. A child takes their time with no agenda but to figure it all out. They aren’t quick to be bias or discount something because of what they’ve heard. In fact, the opposite is true, they think they can do anything ….until you tell them they can’t. 

What if we could make a concentrated effort to rediscover wonder? That doesn’t mean quit your job and unload your responsibility to start over. 

Try This:  Cultivate your beginner’s mind as a daily life experiment. Try to approach a problem at work with fresh eyes. Imagine you’d never encountered this problem before and explore it in all its detail. Do the same with daily experiences, like dinner-time or while in a conversation with a friend or spouse. Look at the interaction with new eyes. You may want to imagine you are watching the interaction as an observer. Search for details that you’d previously ignored because the situation is so familiar. Notice how people look, their tone of voice, how they respond to you and their body language. When you look with beginner's eyes, what do you see, that you previously overlooked?

As you do this exercise in daily life, do you find your mind clearing of automatic expectations and judgments? Did you notice anything that you’d previously overlooked? Does slowing down and allowing yourself to simply observe the world around you give you a sense of peace or wonder?

Routine and knowledge of how the world works allow us to make choices about where to focus our attention. But sometimes we get so used to seeing the world in a particular way that we miss important aspects of our experience.

As with everything, just be aware of the moments you blow through and slow down. Don’t be quick to grab your phone or ask someone else. Just sit and wrestle with something for a while. I’m convinced Google is crushing our critical thinking not to mention, paralyzing our patience. 

Start noticing how many times you have a thought and how quickly you grab your device to look up the answer. Once the results are in, do you dig down to compare the info to come up with the right answer or do you take the first result?

What if, the next time you are at dinner with your family or a friend and you come up with a question, you spend some time reasoning it out? Couldn’t this be fun? Everyone can contribute a thought and a possible solution or reason. You can wonder and rationalize to come up with the best possible solution.  This doesn’t have to be a big life question or solve the world’s problems. How old is Willie Nelson? Take a moment and consider his span of work, a movie you might have seen him in, how old you were when you saw it, how old he must have been when he made it. I’m just suggesting taking some time and talking it out. You never know what other conversations and cool subjects could come up as a result. 

In the end, if you want to verify your conclusion, you can but do you really care how old Willie Nelson is? Oh and remember, Google is a search engine gathering data from websites based on keywords and popularity or the clever manipulation of SEO. Don’t be so quick to accept the first answer since they aren’t just an unbiased service for the public but a business selling to consumers.

Are you thinking, great, now I need to spend time wondering? Where am I going to fit that in? I’m supposed to wake up and find gratitude, send out my positive energy to everyone I encounter, be mindful of limiting beliefs and when I should challenge them, AND wonder? Oy

There are many times I catch Matt in wonder. I’ll walk into his office to tell him something and he’s just sitting there. No computer on, no music, nothing in his hands; just sitting there. Now, as a multi-tasker extraordinaire, this seems odd to me. So I ask, “whatcha doing?” His response, “just sitting here”. This is such a foreign concept to me so I have to clarify that I heard him right by repeating his answer, “just sitting there?” Notice the question in my voice? I’m expecting him to come back with a detail that he left out but no, “Yep, just sitting here”. I’m perplexed and dig because there has to be more to this activity. Maybe he’s waiting for something to happen by just wasting time. But no…..he’s just thinking. WEIRD!

But we should all take this awkward exchange as a reminder, thinking IS doing something too. 

Not all daydreaming comes with visions of the little girl on her back looking at the clouds trying to figure out the world. Sometimes the term “daydreamer” brings a negative picture. Someone who can’t take anything seriously, won’t put any real attention or effort in, no direction, lost in the clouds.

Always dreaming, getting ready to get ready isn’t the healthy balance we are always talking about. If you use daydreaming as a way to escape for a moment and give your mind space to wonder, that’s great. If you use daydreaming to escape from life, from your responsibilities and growth, then it could be counterproductive.

Dreams should help you visualize new things you want to try, experience, or explore. What might be preventing you from turning those thoughts and dreams into reality? This may be something to breakdown but you can’t do that until you are aware that your healthy balance, might be a little off.

Too much time in the future, imagining what life could be without taking action means you can’t enjoy the present or work out the details that are preventing you from moving forward.

“A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.”
― W.H. Auden

CHALLENGE: Observe your thoughts and wrestle with your ideas. Take a moment to dream and wonder; exploring the corners of your subconscious. Life will keep moving even if you take a mini, thought-provoking, time-out.

I Know YOU Can Do It!



Christy Matta wrote an article, Have You Lost Your Sense of Wonder? For mentalhelp.net
SIDNEY STEVENS gives us 5 ways daydreaming is good for you.
In an article for Everyday Health, we learn ever MORE positives for daydreaming and a few negatives
A cool quote by  W.H. Auden



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