Getting called out for drifting off during a meeting probably doesn’t make you feel great, but try not to let your daydreaming tendencies get you down. According to one new study, all that time spent imagining being licked by dozens of fluffy puppies (just me?) or landing your dream job as a professional avocado taster (because yes, it exists) isn’t such a bad thing after all.
While participants were in MRI machines and instructed to focus on a stationary point for five minutes, researchers measured their brain patterns. Afterward, participants divulged their mind-wandering habits. Results showed those who daydreamed on the regular were also found to be smarter and more creative.
“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t. Our data shows this isn’t always true, and some people have more efficient brains.” —Eric Schumacher, PhD
“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t,” said study co-author and cognitive psychologist Eric Schumacher, PhD, in a press release. “Our data is consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.”
And, there are some telltale signs of an extra-efficient brain, like spacing out during conversations or tasks and being able jump back in without missing a beat.
“Our findings remind me of the absentminded professor—someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings,” Dr. Schumacher said. “Or schoolchildren who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”
So get your daydream on, smarty-pants. There’s nothing wrong with letting your imagination run wild (but, y’know, probably best to at least look engaged in the boardroom).