As a child I was asked this question many times.
Kya soch rahe ho? What are you thinking? Or to be more precise, what are you day dreaming about?
Nowadays very few ask me this question. One reason is that after meditating for 5 years in the Himalayas, I have developed laser-like focus.
That was a joke, but you probably know what I mean. What with society’s displeasure with adults day dreaming and the innumerable distractions available, the time we spend on this activity has gone down significantly.
But that doesn’t mean it ever stops. At least for us ordinary mortals, it perhaps never will.
Which actually is a good thing, it seems.
Andrew Stewart in his book Auto Pilot writes that there is growing evidence that day dreaming or being idle is good for general well-being. 🙂
New research is showing that during conscious activities, certain set of neurons in the brain get activated. But when idle, another set becomes active. This goes against the current theory that during idle times, the brain rests completely.
He points out that all natural systems are self-organizing, including our brains. Meaning external guidance is not necessarily required. For example, in an ant society, the ants know only a few basic actions but overall the ant society still functions well without a central authority.
Does this mean that the brain performs some important self-organizing functions during its idle state?
He also mentions that though we usually see noise as a negative, in case of self-organizing systems, noise makes the output better. Even variation in input is important otherwise there is a possibility of seizure caused by resonance. In simple language – random thoughts (both noisy and varying) are necessary.
He gives known examples of scientists and poets whose greatest works, inventions or discoveries occurred during day dreaming phases and not on a rigid goal-driven schedule.
So the next time you find yourself lost in thoughts, know that it is alright, and is perhaps making you more intelligent and happier. 🙂