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It’s very unlikely that you or anyone you know will sail through life without suffering from depression at some point.  I’m not talking about ‘feeling blue’ or ‘unmotivated’:  I’m talking about clinical depression that affects you as a real illness – one that needs treatment to see you back to good, mental health.

As frightening as that sounds, it doesn’t mean that you need to resign yourself to it if you’re struggling with anxiety or a persistent low mood right now.  There are things that you can do to help yourself to cope with today’s demanding world come free of charge and perfectly naturally:  meditation, exercise, eating well, maintaining a social life … they all help to reduce stress and stave off depression.

There’s another, though, that is completely underused and rarely marketed as a stressbuster of note:  your ability to daydream.


Some people refer to daydreaming as an ‘art’ but it really is not.  An art is something that needs to be learned – practiced, developed and refined over time.  Imagination, in contrast, is a something with which you were born:  it came as a very important accessory to a fully equipped, little bundle of joy.

As a child, you naturally exercised your imagination as you played, taking on roles of all sorts of characters and placing them in fantastical settings and storylines.  You daydreamed about what you’d do when you grew up, one day so very far away.

That day came, eventually.  Along the way, you lost your habit of daydreaming – and the chances are that your joy disappeared along with it.  So why did you lose the habit?

The more responsibilities you adopted as a child, then as an adolescent, then as a young man, the less time you had to exercise your imagination by daydreaming.  At school, you were told to pay attention in class instead of gazing out of the window; at work, you were told to work hard and fast to keep your job.

Even now, as an entrepreneur, you’re told by the many ‘gurus’ out there to satisfy your customer, to find the niche in your market and to fill it, meet the need that’s not being met.  In every instance, somebody else is telling you to shelve your own dreams, stop doing your ‘own thing’, ignore your daydreams and to focus on hitting goals that you never dreamed up in the first place.

Where’s the joy in that?  It’s no wonder that depression and anxiety is affecting so many people these days.  Men are particularly prone to depression; suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of fifty in the UK.  If something so simple as your being allowed to daydream can have the power to avert clinical depression, then isn’t it time you gave yourself permission to drift away again?

Here’s the good news:  you never lost your ability to daydream.  You lost the habit of daydreaming, which is not the same thing.  You still have the innate ability to use your imagination creatively for yourself – your own dreams, ideas and flights of fancy – and when you do, you’ll start to find your joy again, too.  This time, though, you can train it to help you in your working life and private life to reach your goals.  Your own goals, that is – not somebody else’s.



It’s a wonderland inside that mighty cranium of yours.  Apart from all of the functions it carries out to keep your physical body working and perpetually restoring itself to a state of health, it is a complete entertainment zone, too.

How can a bit of spongey stuff be so amazingly clever at doing all of that and of creating fantasy?  We can and should use that power of visualisation to change our lives for the better – move away from stress and towards balance and joy.

It’s true that the more you focus on something, the more of it you will get.  It makes total sense really, but there are plenty of so-called “experts” out there who would have us all believe that there’s something mystical about it.  It’s one of the basic principles of the “Law of Attraction” – and there’s probably not an entrepreneur out there who hasn’t heard about that.

I’m not here to poke holes in anybody’s core beliefs but it must be said that certain ill-researched doctrines have a lot to answer for when it comes to people’s mental health concerns.  It’s all very well dreaming up a goal and imagining yourself already having it, but it’ll never ‘manifest’ physically in the real world without your doing something to attain it.

There are many disillusioned dreamers out there.  When disillusionment becomes a pattern, depression has an open door to step right in.

Using your imagination is a great thing but if you want your circumstances to change then it’s not an end in itself.  The key ingredient to effective daydreaming, envisioning, ‘attracting’ or ‘manifesting’ is ACTION.  When you create a set of goals to support your dream and then work towards them by consistently taking small action steps, your dream ‘tomorrow’ will eventually become your very real ‘today’.



So back to the start … do you know what you want?  Do you have an active imagination, or are you like most of us in the adult world whose daydreaming habit needs a kickstart?

If you’re in the latter group, take ten minutes out of your day today to simply sit in a pleasant place with nothing to do.  Most of us have an idea of at least one thing that we’d like to experience or have that we currently do not.  I suggest you start with that – a holiday, a car, a new home …

Each of these is a happy concept – but that’s as far as it goes, usually.  We seldom have ready-made dreams with all of the details filled in, which is where your imagination can help you.

At this point, it’s best to set some parameters.  Not financial ones, mind you – you don’t have to worry about how you can afford things in Daydreamland – but rather, some broad outlines of what you’re daydreaming about.  Which country are you visiting on your dream holiday?  Which model of car takes your fancy in your fantasy showroom?  In which suburb would you love to live?  Once you set those parameters, it’s much easier to fill in the details.  Your imaginings are more focused and fun.

Think of it as a mental playground, full of swings, slides, jungle gyms and roundabouts.  The parameter fence that surrounds all of these exciting things is what gives you the confidence and sense of security to run rampant, taking a turn on everything within it that you can see.  Without it, you might wander off and waste your ten minutes elsewhere, thinking about boring stuff like work and money as we men are prone to do.  You don’t want to do that:  your imagination is there to help you to create fun and a positive state of mind.  It’s just as easy to imagine exciting, happy ideas as it is to imagine frightening, stressy ones.  Use it wisely.

Now, it’s time to have as much mental fun as you like and to come up with the details.  With your safe parameters in place focusing you on having fun, you’re free to explore and make up as much as you can.  Look at things, touch them, smell them, taste them and listen to what’s happening around you. What colour is your beach towel on this dream holiday?  Which artist is playing in your new car?  Who are your neighbours at your dream home?



It takes around six weeks to turn a repeated action into a habit, so the experts say.  By the end of six weeks of a daily, ten-minute daydreaming session, you should have a very compelling image of what you really, really want – perhaps even a few.

For now, though, that’s all it is.  It’s time to turn it into a goal. 

If you’ve tried following a goal plan with limited success, it’s because the desired result simply wasn’t desirable enough.  This time, you’re going to see a brilliant outcome as you find yourself truly wanting to see the daydream come true.  As you design your list of “Steps to Take” to attain it, you’ll feel energised and eager to get started.  As you progress over the weeks and months ahead, you’ll find your plan easy to stick to as long as you manage your time to take regular, daily action.

If not, then you probably haven’t come up with a dream result that truly ‘does it’ for you yet.  It must turn you on.  How much do you really want it, on a scale of one to ten?  If it’s not a ‘ten’, then daydream bigger.  Ask yourself, “If time/money/responsibility were no issue, what would I be driving right now?  Where would I be?  What would my home be like?” and so on.

Tony Robbins terms this the ‘Pain/Pleasure Principle’.  If a goal that you’re working towards doesn’t totally float your boat, it’s because you haven’t attributed enough emotional pleasure to the idea of your achieving it.  It could be that you have some mixed emotions about it; you’re attributing pain to attaining it as well as pleasure.  Will you have to give up something that you love in order to attain the new dream?  Might it affect somebody else badly?

This is often the reason for self-sabotage.  You might not be aware that you are harbouring some doubts about what you want.  The emotional mix up can lurk at the back of your mind until you recognise the conflicting thoughts and have a good look at them.  Assess honestly if there’s more pain connected to achieving your dream than pleasure.  Then consider this:  how much more painful will your life be if you don’t achieve the dream?

This is where you can give depression the kicking it deserves … because as luck would have it, we humans tend to move away from pain more quickly than we move towards pleasure.  ‘The stick’ is worryingly more effective than ‘the carrot’, as it turns out.

It’s as well to know that; now, you can view your stresses and worries in life as motivators, not debilitations.  Whatever it is that gets you down, creates stress or even anxiety in your world, you can now employ to spur you onwards.  It takes some courage to imagine how painful life will be if you don’t change the things that are creating your stress.  The vision, though, is a real motivator.

Once you’ve done it, imagine again the happier picture – full of vivid detail.  Never leave a daydreaming session on bad note.



With your imagination working for you properly now, you can embark on this journey toward your dream with delight.  When you know something great is going to happen rather than hope it will, the effort in your taking consistent action is easier.

Set mini, ‘steppingstone’ goals as your path and remember to track your progress – both the successes and the setbacks you have along the way, however small they may be.

Keep your eyes peeled for mentors and travel companions en route, too.  They may be those who share your beliefs and have similar dreams; they may also be those who don’t but who regularly set goals and measure them.  Spend your time consciously with people who are motivated like you to make their daydreams reality.  Their companionship is worth a great deal.

The ultimate companionship of a real confidant, of course, is worth pure gold.  I often talk about my friend Alex, who drew alongside me when I was suffering from depression so badly that I nearly ended it all.  If you have an ‘Alex’ in your life, share with him what you’re doing.  Talking about your dreams with somebody you trust is just as powerful as talking through your fears and anxieties.

There’s something to be said for sharing your daydreams with somebody … something that makes you feel like a child again, takes you back to the sunny place where anything and everything is possible.  There’s no place for stress or anxiety there.

I recommend you visit it at least for ten minutes every day.  Life will change for the happier.


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