It’s the end of the 19th Century and a middle-aged man has a daily obsession that intrigues local residents. Each day, he strolls to the end of the pier to set up his fishing rod. And after exactly one hour, he calls it a day. What makes onlookers puzzled is the fact that he has yet to catch a single fish.
Surely he must be the worst fisherman they have ever seen?
So one day, a local resident decides to disturb him to find out. Smiling, the fisherman informs the young man that he never caught anything because he uses no bait. Confused, this resident follows up by asking why he would do such a thing.
The response? “Because when you fish without bait, people don’t bother you and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.”
This fisherman was Thomas Edison, one of the world’s most successful inventors, who was responsible for discoveries that include the phonograph, the motion picture viewers and electric light bulb. What he truly understood was the power of silence, the power of space and the power of letting the mind wander. From Edison to Archimedes and from Newton to Google employees, all have witnessed how letting the mind wander can ignite your creativity and lead to profound insights.
Daydreaming can so often be confused for a lack of interest. I believe, however, that if we submit to the norm of being busy for the sake of being busy and work without respite, our creativity and productivity suffer. Life is far too short to always be busy. You have a reservoir of wisdom and creativity within your mind that is yearning for you to tap into. And when you do, you will begin to connect to that place inside from which anything is possible.
Being in that reflective mood not only allows for insights to flood in, but can also inspire you forward into the excitement of the unknown. Knowledge is rooted in curiosity and by making a habit of incorporating moments in your daily life to daydream – just like Edison did – you will begin to appreciate the incredible power of silence, space and letting your mind wander.
Everything around you began its life as a dream, a thought, an idea From the clothes you wear to the products you use. They were all born from the seeds of imagination. In fact, it just takes one profound insight, acted on, to create a phenomenal shift in your thinking.
Experiencing creative breakthroughs is not a superpower exclusively reserved for the high achievers among us. It is, in fact, a process available to all. Criss Jami, an American poet, essayist, singer, designer, lyricist and existentialist philosopher, once said, “Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out.”
But as children become teenagers and teenagers become adults, the average time we spend daydreaming falls off a steep cliff. Learning to daydream again will help you experience more joyous breakthroughs and “aha!” moments. To get you back diving and swimming in your imagination, here are some activities you may want to make habits.
Set Aside Regular “Me” Time
Limit yourself to a specific amount of time “doing”so you can give yourself a break and just “be.” Take time to reflect, so you return to your “doing” refreshed and energised. This could be a long outdoor walk by the river, embracing the habit of daily meditation or time in your favourite coffee shop (a study by the “Journal of Consumer Research” found that the ambient noise in coffee shops boosts individual creative thinking). And with sites like coffitivity.com and soundrown.com, you can bring productivity-inducing sounds – from the sound of coffee shops to nature – with you wherever you are.
If you are reading this in a public space, I want you to take a moment to look at the people around you.
What do you notice?
I will bet that the majority of people are looking down at an electronic device of some sort. What is interesting is that before the now widespread use of smartphones and tablets, people would have used that time to connect with one another or zoned out to daydream. Looking up and away from the distractions of screens allows you to reconnect with yourself, others and the world around you.
This simple activity helps you be more present with what’s happening around you; as a result, you’ll be able to really listen to and connect with your inner wisdom and dreamer.
Associate With Your Visions
To be successful in any endeavour undertaken, you need to know how you’re going to get there. When dreaming about what that vision of success looks like, you want to make it as clear, bright and large as possible. You need to associate with what it will feel like when you’re where you want to be, what it will taste like and what you’ll be doing specifically. Immerse yourself in that vision.
When we are more connected to our imagination, our minds are able to help by guiding us toward fresh insight.
Record Your Insights
Make sure to carry a notebook and pen with you in order to record the most interesting ideas that arise when letting your mind wander. Daydreaming is as useful as a pen without ink if you fail to retain some of the insights that hit you.
If you have an amazing breakthrough and forget to write it down, by tomorrow it may be gone forever. While daydreaming is available to all of us, what is more beautiful and productive is your ability to listen to your daydreams and take determined action toward making them a reality.
A well-timed daydream could be the most productive activity you do today because answers, more often than not, will come from the mind that is still.
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