The brain is never idle and never inactive. The brain is always at work, especially when we sleep.
Today I went to one of my favorite places, the 99 cent store, to pick up one thing. I went in without a list and I spent $34.00 on 34 things.
I’m happy to report that I DID get the one thing I went to get. I have gone to the store without a list and come home with several things except what I went for.
That’s a simple story, but the lesson is there -the brain needs a list or a specific goal in focus or it shops everywhere for everything.
We need to tell the brain what we want it to do, we need to have focus and attention, and we need to practice that focus and attention so we can stay on track. That includes “idle time”. We think that daydreaming is idle time, but the brain is still working.
Studies show us that idle time, where the brain can wander can be creative. However, if the thoughts of the brain go in a negative direction, the result is anxiety, dread, fear or discomfort -the sense of threat at some level. That moves us into the sympathetic nervous system of “threat” or fight/flight, our cortisol rises and the hormones of stress kick into gear.
Thyroxin, which is long-term adrenaline, can stay in the system as long as 4 days. Idle time spent daydreaming that goes in a negative direction is not healthy.
My advice is that daydreaming is fine as long as you manage it and keep it going in a positive direction, and that will be more creative.
Daydreaming that goes off in a negative direction is like going to a store where there is nothing you need, lots of things you don’t need and bringing the especially bad things home.
My critics will say that the negative day-dreaming brings up issues that need to be resolved. I disagree. I think that’s not true.
Negative issues that need to be addressed are those that continue to rise up in us in one way or another.
If we get everyday needless negative feelings out of the way and build up a positive reservoir, the truly negative things will focus because you will have a greater sense of security (safety) in allowing them to do so from this more positive base that we have built.
It is often the negative feelings of an idle brain that creates rumination, worrying, dream and a sense of threat.
© Dr. William K. Larkin