General Question

antimatter's avatar

Why do we daydream?

Asked by antimatter (4266 points ) January 29th, 2014

It’s a bit weird but sometimes when I am sitting alone somewhere I tend to find myself daydreaming.
I don’t think I daydream much but lately I’ve been doing it a lot.

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10 Answers

filmfann's avatar

I am not sure if it is the same reason we dream, but it might be. Dreaming helps cleans the mind and calms the nerves. It is like erasing the chalkboard.

hearkat's avatar

In my case, daydreaming was my only escape from a miserably dysfunctional and abusive childhood home; and it probably saved my sanity to some extent. However, as I relied on it into adulthood, it became a symptom of my own dysfunction, as I was escaping my reality instead of consciously working to create a better reality.

For most people, it is simply an outlet for their creativity and imagination – and the more creative a mind is, the more prone to daydreaming I would think a person would be.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it does prove to be neurologically valuable, as well – somewhere between sleep-dreaming and meditation. I don’t know if anyone has or is exploring that theory, but it just seems to make sense to me.

pleiades's avatar

Daydreaming is the window to your intuition and natural longings. In a daydream, is similar to dreaming at night but as you are conscious you have seemingly more control over what to daydream about. In a daydream you can explore and ponder about certain possibilities. It’s really just experimenting between rational and irrational thoughts seeing what goes where, ifs, and hows, whens and coulds, all paired up.

CWOTUS's avatar

Generally, I think, we daydream because we’re not paying attention.

Now get back to work so you can support me in my old age. It’s coming sooner than even I think.

thorninmud's avatar

Daydreaming is your brain’s way of taking time out to update its narrative.

One of your brain’s tasks is to construct and maintain your master story, the story you tell yourself about who you are, how all the pieces of your world fit together, what you aspire to and care about, etc.

The actual thread of experience of your life tends to be rather unstructured. The universe, it turns out, doesn’t care about your story. But you care very deeply about your story, since it gives meaning and definition to your life.

That’s why every now and then, when your attention isn’t taken up with what’s going on around you, your brain checks out of monitoring the current thread of experience and devotes its resources to trying to make sense of the flood of experience in a way that fits in with the master story. It will imagine the possible plot twists that might lie ahead; it will obsessively replay encounters with others; it will rehearse the various roles you play in life. Experiences that seem relevant to the story are churned over and over; those that don’t fit in well (or contradict it) get ignored.

Daydreaming is the editor of your story at work.

josie's avatar

@thorninmud

Perhaps that is correct.

But on the other hand it sort of sounds like a New Age way of coming up with an enabling excuse for wasting time.

flip86's avatar

It happens when we get bored. I get lost in my thoughts all the time, pondering outcomes and possibilities.

ibstubro's avatar

I think mostly creative people daydream, and it’s a way of sharpening or honing our creative skills. Taking them out and playing with them, if you will, so they don’t get stale. Daydreaming is story telling, only we are our own muses.

cookieman's avatar

@thorninmud: I love that explanation. ”Daydreaming is the editor of your story at work.Brilliant.

And, as a designer, I agree with @ibstubro. Daydreaming solves many visual problems for me.

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