When was the last time you daydreamed? Just stared out the window at nothing and let your mind roam? It’s one of my favorite things to do. Often after a really busy day, I go sit on our veranda and watch the dragonflies and birds flit around our backyard. I see the wind caressing the leaves on the trees and might hear a woodpecker in the distance. Even when it’s hot outside, I find that spending a few minutes thinking about nothing and tuning in to nature can be so restorative.
Every day we wake up and face a mountain of tasks and responsibilities—a to-do list with no beginning and no end. Many of us feel overwhelmed as we try to keep up with the duties of life. The reality is we can never keep up. Every minute, it seems, something new plops down into our laps that we have to deal with. How do we maintain any sense of joy and fulfillment when it seems the world is conspiring to make us crazy?
That’s where daydreaming comes in. Letting our minds drift off wherever they want to go is an antidote to information overload. Leaving behind our regimented, data-driven lifestyles—even if it’s just for a few moments—gives us a chance to get in touch with the other aspects of life, the ones that make it worth living.
Like our senses, for one thing. Just being still and noticing the sounds and smells and textures around us is amazingly refreshing. Once a wise woman told me to go outside, close my eyes, and really listen to all the sounds I hear. Try to isolate the different noises and figure out what direction they are coming from, she told me. Listen to the loud sounds and then try to hear the fainter ones. It’s amazing what you’ll hear when you stop and listen.
Do you have children in your life? Kids are the best teachers when it comes to being in the moment. Follow their examples. Stop and watch a butterfly or pick up a leaf and stare at it in wonder. Eat an ice cream cone slowly so you savor every bite. Who cares if it melts all over your hands?
If you haven’t taken a day off in awhile, now’s the time. Call it a mental health day and do something fun you’ve been itching to do. Maybe it’s spending a day in your garden or taking a painting class. Perhaps you and a friend can go to lunch and then visit a museum. Simple out-of-the-ordinary activities like these will help you feel more joy in your life, even if you know that the to-do list will be waiting when you return.
In fact, you might find that time spent seeking fulfillment energizes you, enabling you to easily knock out a few items on your to-do list. The key is to pay attention to your needs and let the rest of the world take care of itself for a while. Then when you’re refreshed and energized, pick up where you left off. You may discover a new outlook on life.
And it all started with a little daydreaming!