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Science Says Keeping a Dream Diary Can Make Us More Creative

Science Says Keeping a Dream Diary Can Make Us More Creative

The very act of recording a dream is fascinating. It improves your awareness of the dream state, making it easier to recall dreams and work with them. If you are wondering why you should even bother recalling a dream, well, dreams have been responsible for some major creative and scientific discoveries in human history.

In 1965, Paul McCartney of the legendary pop group The Beatles composed the entire melody for the hit acoustic song Yesterday in a dream. It came back to him in its entirety when he woke up and he quickly replicated the song on his piano, asking his family and friends if they had ever heard it before. He was initially worried that he was replicating someone else’s work.

Similarly, Niels Bohr, the father of quantum mechanics, often spoke of the inspirational dream that led to his most revolutionary discovery of the structure of the atom. Even Albert Einstein, famous for his genius insights, credited many of those insights to his dreams. “Einstein’s Dreams” is a fascinating read about the collage of stories Einstein dreamed in 1905 on the brink of his breakthrough discoveries.

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When you start to successfully capture dreams and begin to keep a dream diary, the following are some wonderful benefits you can expect:

1. Keeping a dream diary provides us a record.

Dreams are quite fleeting. Most dreams get lost shortly after we have them. Often you won’t remember a dream after only a few hours, or a few days at most. Why allow yourself to forget all your dreams forever when you can keep them on record? Keeping a dream diary ensures your dreams are safely recorded and you can go back to them whenever you want in future.

2. Keeping a dream diary can inspire creativity.

Dreams are also powerful tools for creative inspiration. When you read your dream diary and recall dreams, you engage different parts of the brain and trigger your mind to think in a totally different way that you might not otherwise have been able to do. That’s almost always a good thing for getting your creative juices moving, especially when you’ve hit a creative mental block.

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3. Keeping a dream diary can lead to brilliant discoveries.

As already mentioned, who knows what brilliant insights or discoveries are waiting to be unearthed in your dreams. One dream can result in a brilliant discovery or invention that alters not just your world or the world of your loved ones, but also the course of the whole world in general.

4. Keeping a dream diary allows us to appreciate our own mental growth.

Being able to look back on a dream later and think, “Ah, interesting” or “Geez, that was a weird dream” can be a lot of fun, not to mention eye-opening. It could give you an appreciation of your own mental growth a few years into the future looking back and seeing where your mind was compared to where your mind is at currently. For many people, this is enough reason in itself to keep a dream diary.

5. Keeping a dream diary allows us to observe our sub-conscious.

The beauty of keeping a dream diary is that when you read through it, dreams come flooding back into memory. You see details of your subconscious thoughts vividly all over again, meaning you can analyze what was/is going on in your subconscious mind. Even if you are not keen on analyzing your dreams, knowing what your deepest thoughts are is oftentimes quite enlightening. And besides, the simple act of writing down dreams can be therapeutic too, just like keeping a regular diary.

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Conclusion: Dreams are not the meaningless, corrupt or delusional fantasies some make them out to be

Psychologists no longer dismiss dreams as mere fantasies or random neurons firing. Today they recognize dreams as an ongoing thought process that happens while we are asleep. That is why it is a great idea to journal your dreams. If you don’t journal your dreams, you might never know what profound thoughts are happening while you are asleep, and what impact those thoughts might have on your waking life.

Admittedly, though, oftentimes when we want to remember dreams all we have when we wake up in the morning is a vague recollection of a place or the lingering feeling of being upset. It doesn’t seem worth writing down.

If you have trouble remembering dreams, be patient with yourself. Putting too much pressure on yourself to dream or having high expectations to recall dreams will only exasperate the situation and leave you feeling more disappointed or frustrated.

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Dreams are erratic. They will come around in their own sweet time. And when they do come, try lucid anchoring to capture them.

Try this lucid anchoring exercise to capture your dreams

Lucid anchoring comes from the fascinating branch of psychology called Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Just before you fall asleep, pick an item that you can see clearly from your bed. It can be a prominent picture hung on the wall, for example. This will be your anchor.

Look at this picture when you go to sleep, wake up during the night and first thing in the morning. When you look at the picture say to yourself, “I will remember my dreams.” The phrase acts as a trigger for your unconscious brain to associate the picture with remembering dreams. It’s a statement of intent that informs your mind to focus on your dreams and remember them.

Look at that picture multiple times each night to improve the odds of remembering dreams. It’s also advisable to have on hand a book light or pen with a light attached for recording the most vivid images or emotions from a dream right in the middle of the night upon awakening. Don’t trust you’ll remember your dream in the morning—many amazing dreams and brilliant ideas are lost with that assumption.

Featured photo credit: Eugenio Marongiu via shutterstock.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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