Take a poor orphan headed to a job interview, for example.
Freud imagined the orphan fantasizing about getting the gig, wowing the boss, marrying his daughter, and taking over the business, thus recovering the family and comforts lost, all before reaching the meeting.
Daydreaming, he theorized, is important for creative thinking.
When we indulge in fantasies about our hopes for the future, we prepare ourselves to deal with reality.
Because she is exceptionally disciplined, Foley specifically schedules daydreaming into her day. During her daily runs, long ones especially, Foley’s mind-wandering is determinedly positive.“I’m only allowed to play out situations exactly like I’d want to them to play out, best-case scenario,” she explained.
“I’m not allowed to tell myself that these ideas are dumb, or that they’d never happen or that the subject matter is stupid.
“Past, present and future are strung together, as it were, on the thread of the wish that runs through them,” he wrote.
To the extent that this fantasy can inspire the orphan to make his daydreams come true, threading wishes can be a good idea.
That said, as long as your mind isn’t wandering over your problems again and agaian, fantasizing can be useful.
Take my Quartz colleague, health and science writer Katherine Ellen Foley.