How Daydreams and Videogames Can Make Us Confident In Real Life (Yes)

Is there a daydreamer in your life? There are a couple in mine. (And sometimes, it’s me.) Here’s a look at the benefits of “relaxed attention.”

20131013-095035.jpgDaydreaming has problem-solving power. Sometimes it helps to stop focusing so intently on an issue, and aim for what IDEO founder David Kelley’s mentor Bob McKim used to call “relaxed attention.” In that mental state, the problem or challenge occupies space in your brain, but not on the front burner.

Relaxed attention lies between meditation, where you completely clear your mind, and the laser-like focus you apply when tackling a tough math or engineering problem. Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we are not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us while we are in the shower, or taking a walk or a long drive. (David Kelley often places a whiteboard marker in his shower, so he can write a passing idea on the glass wall before it slips away.)

So if you find yourself stuck on a problem, take 20 minutes or so off the grid; let your mind disengage temporarily. You may find a solution arriving like a flash or stroke of insight. In fact, when you are stuck on a problem, here are a couple of ways to defocus your mind and to get into relaxed attention. –Tom Kelley and David Kelley, Wired.com.