There is a great deal to recommend letting your mind wander aimlessly, and yet how often do we allow ourselves to daydream? At school in the 1980’s I was actively discouraged from daydreaming, not that I was especially guilty of doing so. Freud believed daydreamers were infantile and neurotic, while psychology textbooks warned teachers that children who daydreamed were heading for psychosis. Rather a dramatic assessment, but typical of the thinking at the time. Even recently, prominent psychologists have declared a wandering mind an unhappy mind. Whilst I’m no expert, I could not disagree more. After all, we have evolved this way so why should daydreaming be such a negative thing? The need to prove oneself constantly busy, occupied and ‘on it’ is surely part of the problem, which is a troubling one.
Aside from providing an endless supply of personal entertainment and distraction from the the more mundane and unsavoury aspects of life, many experts now acknowledge that daydreaming can be a means of fulfilling our true potential. Allowing the mind to explore the material stored in your brain and create new links may very well help to consolidate memories and reconcile your woes, whilst also synthesising thoughts and plans to form a unique and personal vision of your future. A daydreaming mind can make associations between fragments of information that no-one else may ever have considered in that particular way. In short, daydreaming makes you more creative, thoughtful and potentially more brilliant than you already are.
Had I known all of this, as my flight cruised through thin air at 35,000 feet on the way to India, I would have understood why the plan for our new garden quickly flashed into my mind. For the first time in weeks, perhaps months, I had allowed my mind free rein, connecting Him Indoors’ desire for an outdoor seating area with the brightly coloured urns at Jardin Majorelle and the Islamic garden at Le Jardin Secret with my wish to create a garden composed of soft greys and muted greens, punctuated by flashes of colour. All tempered by a deep recognition that Broadstairs is neither Marrakech nor the Med. Before I knew it the British Airways menu card was unceremoniously graffitied with rough sketch of the garden I knew I wanted, only I hadn’t been able to free my mind to see.
We live in an age where our external environment fights and wins our attention every time. So rarely do we take time to let go, reflect, connect and nurture our own ideas. The tragedy is that they are likely to be more original and better aligned to our vision of the future than anything anyone else could tell us. By giving ourselves time for more self-generated thought we are more likely to fulfill our desires and ambitions than we know. We avoid daydreaming to the detriment of ideas, creativity and ultimately our positive wellbeing.
This post is illustrated with images the place in which I am staying, The Trident in Gurgaon, one of my favourite hotels in the world and perfectly suited for daydreaming.