What a day for a daydream.

February 25th, 2011

Where does your mind do its best wandering? In the shower? In the car? In your favorite chair? Or maybe it’s simply when you take a break to stare out the window in your office.

If you’re thinking that “best wandering” is an oxymoron, consider the following seven scientific and literary achievements that grew out of such “mental meandering”, as Ingrid Wickelgren so succinctly put it in her introduction to the Delivered in a Daydream slide show for last week’s online edition of Scientific American magazine.

1. Albert Einstein homed in on the gist of his special theory of relativity while taking a break from his work.

2. Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard came up with one of the core ideas behind nuclear fission while crossing the street.

3. August Kekulé von Stradonitz, who helped found structural organic chemistry in the mid-1800s, is known for a famous reverie that revealed the arrangement of atoms in a molecule and later coalesced into his theory of molecular structure.

4. It was after settling into the bathtub that the Greek mathematician Archimedes solved a complex problem he’d been studying and unable to solve.

5. Kary Mullis received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993 for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), an idea he conceptualized while driving on a California highway.

6. The two fantasy lands that the novelists Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë created as children in the 1820s became the mental seeds for the novels the sisters would write as adults.

7. Turkish novelist and 2006 Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk found inspiration from daydreams for works such as Snow (2004, Knopf).

I think your own energy is usually your best ally when it comes to ideas. In other words, it’s your own thoughts and emotions – focused in concentration or oftentimes free to wander – that lead to inspired action.

Try clearing your mind now and then. Free it to think about possibilities, ideas, solutions. Trust yourself to have the answer. The Lovin’ Spoonful might not have agreed with me, but, when it comes to thinking, time is usually on your side.

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One Response to “What a day for a daydream.”

  1. Julie Tarney says:

    Hey, thanks for the flash comment!