How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Go off into a reverie and dream about the good things that might happen.
Do not worry whether these thoughts are realistic or not. Just keep them happy. If your mind wanders onto something less positive, just bring it back by thinking good thoughts.
If you are trying to solve a problem and are getting tired, take a break, go for a walk and let the subconscious get on with it.
Being creative involves thinking about possibilities without worrying about costs or reasons why things may not work. Suspend disbelief. Put off judgement. Do not even try to distinguish between feasible, possible or probable. Just dream of what would be nice.
A wandering mind is an indication of a brain at rest. If you are not thinking about anything in particular, rather than not think at all, your mind will think of anything, which may be thoughts that are floating in your unconscious.
Positive reverie can be a comforting break when the world is getting you down. Daydreams can hence be a good way of relaxing. If you are having a tough time at work, a little daydream about what you will do on your holidays may be all you need to cheer up.
Some people daydream more than others, and as long as this does not hinder your work it can be a good thing in the happiness it creates. It also is good for your working memory as it exercises it well.
In normal thinking, we are often so disciplined about how we think, we automatically block out creative thoughts. Baird et al. (2012) found that mind-wandering could be a useful creative method. This method, of course, has been used for many years by innovators of all kinds.
Note that this method may or may not work for you. As indicated by Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010), many people, given time to let their mind wander, end up thinking negatively, perhaps as the mind dwells on unresolved problems. To make daydreaming work, you may have to give it a nudge in the positive direction. If you still find it difficult to daydream happily, then try another method, including not daydreaming and living more in the moment.
Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M.D., Kam, J.W.Y., Franklin, M.S. and Schooler, J.W. (2012). Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation, Psychological Science, 23, 10, 1117–1122
Killingsworth, M.A. and Gilbert, D.T. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, Science, 330, 6006, 932