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Negative Versus Positive Daydreaming: A Little Pandemic Positivity

box turtle with rescue mom
Bruce, my precious rescued box turtle, teaches me every day what it looks like to bravely daydream towards the good of all – each person and animal I share this small round blue plant with.

If there is one fact everyone seems to agree on, it is this: nothing feels certain at any level right now.

At least I know that rings true for me.

I wake up each morning and there are the regular day to-do list tasks that need getting done yet again. I do these every day and scarcely 24 hours goes by before they need to get done all over again.

Then there are the slightly less-regular tasks that are starting to crop back up as things begin to open back up around my city of Houston, TX.

For example, my annual wellness checkups. Suddenly all my doctors want to see me, like they always do right around this time of year. Only this year it feels…weird. After all, I’m well! To the best of my knowledge, there is no reason at all for me to venture into the medical center to be seen, and definitely at a time when the healthcare profession as a whole is overtaxed by COVID cases.

But they just keep calling and I have to figure out how to proceed.

Then there are the longer-term tasks that will or may need doing at some time in the future. I took care of one of them – updating my will – a few weeks ago, paying an exorbitant cash rate to a local notary to provide two witnesses, a signature and a stamp just in case, well, you know.

And then there are the questions. Continue to use Instacart or head back out into the wilds of Sprouts and HEB to forage up my own necessities? Keep ordering overpriced not-quite-necessities online or shop for them as the local stores start to open back up again? Restaurants or take-out? Thrifting or no thrifting? (sob.)

In all of this, something my life coach recently said has remained at the top of my awareness.

At any moment, I have the freedom to choose between negative daydreaming and positive daydreaming.

Negative daydreaming, of course, is going over to the Dark Side. Dreaming of the worst that could happen. Imagining what every cell in my ancient limbic survival-obsessed brain screams at me to avoid.

Given COVID-19, it is easy to call negative daydreaming “being real.”

But it doesn’t feel like being real. It feels like being really, really scared. And the more scared I get, the more scary things I perceive and the more vivid and really life-like my daydreaming gets.

Positive daydreaming, in contrast, is the Light Side. Imagining the best that could happen. Dreaming up scenarios my limbic brain falls instantly in love with, hugging and slobbering all over each one like it is Prince Charming, my Fairy Godmother and a whole herd of cuddly puppies all rolled into one.

Given COVID-19, it is easy to call positive daydreaming “checking out.”

But it doesn’t feel like checking out. It feels like….HOPE.

It feels like setting myself up – all of me – for success. My immune system strengthens, as does my resolve to be brave and patient and of service to those (my elderly parents and my animals) who need me most.

My heart stays open and giving. My emotions allow me to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. My spirit sings me lullabies.

It is better.

Positive daydreaming is not hard to do. The way my life coach explains it, you just imagine what you want or hope to happen in as much detail and as vividly as you can. You imagine and daydream about what it will be like, how you will feel, what you will wear, who you will be with, everything you can think of, and keep daydreaming until it starts to feel really, really real.

Then you do it again and again and again. It becomes like a moving meditation, a place to send your mind to rest and get busy at the same time, bathing in the upliftment that comes when a dream starts to feel so real you actually start to expect it to happen to you, and soon.

The other piece is to avoid watching or reading too much news about the pandemic, its progress, its victims or its projections, or anything that could undo all the good positive daydreaming work my mind has been doing. Instead, I just trust that if it is really important, someone will tell me and then I will know.

Otherwise, I choose to focus on what I can control, which is my exposure (both me to others and others to me), my daily tasks and my decision to be a conduit, through positive daydreaming and in other ways, to let the light in whenever and wherever possible.

I choose positive daydreaming because my coach recommended it and because every part of me likes it better than the alternative. Join me?

With great respect and love,


Negative Versus Positive Daydreaming: A Little Pandemic Positivity

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). Negative Versus Positive Daydreaming: A Little Pandemic Positivity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 May 2020
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