Thinking for pleasure often goes by another name: daydreaming.

For many years, the act of daydreaming was frowned upon. We were told to “get our head out of the clouds” and focus on the task at hand. Now, emerging studies reveal daydreaming provides us with substantial health benefits. Research shows letting our minds wander, something the brain spends 50% of its time doing, allows us to find innovative solutions to problems and increases our wellbeing.

While I personally have no problem daydreaming — often floating off into a cloud where I imagine a series of enjoyable thoughts several times a day — thinking for pleasure is a struggle for many individuals.

A journal article in Emotion “What makes thinking for pleasure pleasurable?” cites that many people do not choose to spontaneously daydream. Those that are directed to think for pleasure may struggle to concentrate — or even think that daydreaming is boring. The journal article’s authors speculate that this may be because people are unsure of how to think for pleasure.

How Can I Start Thinking for Pleasure?

What should you do if you’re not sure what to think about when daydreaming? Life coach Julie Leonard recommends taking a quiet walk in nature.

Try to keep the walk as quiet as possible, even if you feel compelled to listen to music or podcasts. Taking a quiet walk allows stimulated brains the chance to rest. “Being in silence allows you the space to reflect and process your thoughts and emotions, explore memories, or visualize goals,” Leonard says.

It is also highly recommended to start in nature when thinking for pleasure.

According to Alexandra Weiss, certified life coach and founder of Coaching by AW, a reset requires disconnecting from your current environment. Being in your favorite place in nature helps you shift out of a space — like your work desk — where you may feel overwhelmed. Being in nature takes you out of this feeling and allows your mind to reach a state where it’s more available to daydream.

Thinking For Pleasure

As we take our quiet walks in nature and allow our brains to silently restore themselves, it’s time to relax and ready yourself for a daydreaming state.

Weiss advises thinking about moments that bring you joy. For example, you may visualize laughing with a friend or engaging in your favorite hobby.

“Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and really visualize this mini escape to a time that makes you feel good and evokes positive emotions,” Weiss says.

Can you feel this joy? You are beginning to think for pleasure.

Coming Back from Daydreams

After allowing daydreams to take us somewhere new, we return to our days having received a necessary break from our to-do lists.

Positive daydreams help us recharge and refocus. We may be more likely to try a different approach to resolve a problem or feel less anxious while working and more at ease.

Why stop at one enjoyable daydream? Leonard recommends planning to daydream daily.

Set aside some time each day that allows you to relax and be in silence. Then, think of something pleasant or focus on positive ideas and people. Let your mind wander for a few minutes. Enjoy the sense of calm that you feel, the joy and happiness, and the pleasure that comes with daily daydreams.