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You Should Let Your Mind Wander

As kids, we had very active imaginations. One day we’d be teachers, then the next day we were firefighters. As time goes on, many people become more grounded in reality, and that mindset may be hurting us more than it’s helping. Despite daydreaming’s bad reputation, there are serious benefits to getting lost in our thoughts. Here are five reasons why we should embrace our imaginative sides.

It’s a different kind of intellect

When we think of someone who is whip-smart, we picture someone focused, grounded, and adaptable -- and while these are all ideal traits, there's something to be said for those daydreaming, imaginative souls. According to Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, daydreamers use their smarts in a way that goes beyond a multiple-choice test to encompass the ability to achieve goals.

"We all have goals and dreams in life -- things we want to accomplish out there in the real world," Kaufman told The Huffington Post in 2013. "And while the kinds of skills that are measured on IQ tests are important ... there are so many more characteristics that come into play in helping us to reach those dreams and goals in a long-term way."

Studies have also found that daydreaming may not be as mindless as we think: During the process, our brains may be more highly engaged, according to a 2012 study.

It’s important for a child’s development

Whether it’s playing the ground is lava or believing in the Easter bunny, childhood indulgences have meaning beyond moments of bliss. Research has shown that having an active imagination is not only crucial to children’s cognitive development, but it also plays a part in their understanding of reality later on. The Wall Street Journal reported that children’s imaginative sides allow them to take on someone else’s perspective.

It has the potential to enhance your memory

Our imaginations help sharpen memories we already have. Imagining something from a personal perspective can be an effective way to recall specific information on command. As a result, imagination could help in memory rehabilitation for those who may have suffered from impairments due to a brain injury.

It may make you more empathetic

Research suggests that there may be a link between memory, imagination, and our ability to be empathetic -- and it's really no surprise. When we're able to picture something that we haven't experienced ourselves, it may be easier to understand what someone else is going through.

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