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More Than a Distraction

To say that not everyone has daydreams, (or experiences the apparently effortless shifts in attention away from the here-and-now into their own private world of make-believe,) is an untrue statement. Everyone daydreams, and we do so for a reason. It’s true that the stereo-typical daydream—most commonly mental images of unicorns and butterflies—can seem quite useless, but in actuality, not all types of daydreams are as distracting, or inept, as they’re perceived to be. Even the more “scattered” daydreams, that we have learned to call a distraction, can provide much-needed relief if the world around us is not as pleasant as something our mind creates for a temporary escape. To a greater extent, psychologists still argue as to whether this woolgathering is an interference with the real world, (and her productive activities,) or if there is a positive value in this escape that the mind lends.

Now, you daydream too. Whether you think daydreaming is a waste of time and attention or not, you’ve probably caught yourself aimlessly staring, eyes fixed on some invisible scenery in the middle distance. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, believe me. In fact, statistics show that the average person spends nearly half of their waking hours daydreaming. Meaning, statistically, half of you are daydreaming right now; what about, I wonder. Could it be about how hungry you are, a though or conversation you had earlier today, something you wish you’d rather be doing, or the seemingly ever-present drama/romance in your particular high school clique? Whatever the current thought cluttering your mind, as long as it‘s off-topic—in any way—from your current reality, it is a daydream. Yes, this allows for very few thoughts that aren’t daydreams, generally leaving only those few thoughts that are completely relevant to that which is happening around you at one given time, but that’s why daydreams are commonly perceived only as distractions or preoccupations. But why, if daydreams are really only a waste of time, do our minds subconsciously revisit them countless times a day; why do we spend so much time in these daydreams at intervals if they‘re pointless?

Due to the definition, (a daydream is any thought without direct pertinence to what’s going on around you physically,) daydreams can be many things, and thus, can allow us to problem-solve according to many different situations. They allow our minds to wander in order to analyze difficult situations in a reality-shielded environment, to experience a refreshing break from an otherwise hectic and stressful day, harmlessly deal with hostile feelings, and help to build up relational, social, personal, and interactive skills for later on in life. Without daydreaming, all of these very important things would be impossible. Therefore, daydreaming holds a value of it’s own while representing both our thoughts, and actions as one conjoined idea. Without daydreaming, we wouldn’t be able to perform simple tasks like reading, recalling memories, falling asleep, or even make a mental to-do list, because all these things rely on away-from-the-present thoughts. They may be distracting at times, Sure. They may even seem to serve us no useful function whatsoever, but even when it looks like they do nothing but negative, our daydreams are doing more for us than we know.

I quarrel with the idea that daydreaming is a useless waist of time because that opinion does not seem well-read, and insists upon a very faint version of the truth, if not just blatant untruthfulness. To say that something is one way, and can only be perceived in that particular way, is a very narrow-minded way to think. Instead, think for a moment, of all the times you’ve thought outside, or away from yourself. Think of every moment you imagined being somewhere other that where you were, because you were bored, or stressed, or uncomfortable. Ponder those nights laying in your bed, when you would recall conversations you had earlier that day, or week, or month, or year. Mull over every time that you were taking a test and couldn’t have answered a question without searching your mind for a memory—being thankful for the ability to do so. Consider any moment that you and a friend reminisced of all those funny stories stashed away from elementary school, or Jr. High. Remember every day that you curled up with your favorite book and listened to the beating of the rain on the rooftop, lost in the seemingly-vibrant words as they leapt off the page and into your thoughts, but most of all, think of now, because everything that you’re remembering right now, is a daydream in itself. Everything that our imagination and memory works together to create, every wandering thought, every searching thought back to a lecture during a quiz or test, is a daydream. Daydreams play a large and vital part in everyone’s life, and can often be more important than—at first glance—they seem to be. Daydreams are everywhere in our lives and without them, life as we know it would not be possible. We would not be able to function as human beings in the same way we are used to. We couldn’t let ourselves get stresses or upset as easily because there would be no way of mentally escaping to cool down. Every hope of ever having an idea would be lost, and imagination would no longer be of any significance. So, next time you experience the apparently effortless shift in attention away from the here-and-now, and feel yourself beginning to leave mentally by means of a daydream, first be thankful for your mind’s ability, and know that daydreaming is of great importance, and undoubtedly, it does more than “just distract”.




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