Let Your Mind Wander

In a culture obsessed with efficiency, mind-wandering is often derided as a lazy habit. But our minds lose track frequently and daydreaming, if cultivated, can pay dividends. 

What's the Latest Development?


Scientists have found that when not strictly concentrated on a particular task, our mind is given to wandering off about fifty percent of the time. In fact, daydreaming seems to be our brain's default mode. But in that default mode, interesting things can happen: "The observed parallel recruitment of executive and default network regions—two brain systems that so far have been assumed to work in opposition—suggests that mind wandering may evoke a unique mental state that may allow otherwise opposing networks to work in cooperation."

What's the Big Idea?

Despite our culture's drive for efficiency in all things, allowing your mind to wander could lead you to solve problems in new and interesting ways. In other words, mind wandering can make you more creative, say researchers. But, there's a catch. "Letting the mind drift off is the easy part. What's much more difficult (and more important) is maintaining a touch of meta-awareness, so that if you happen to come up with a useful new idea while in the shower or sitting in traffic you’re able to take note; the breakthrough isn’t squandered."

Daydream image from Shutterstock.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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