The imagination is an extremely powerful part of the mind. It separates us from animals. It is the beginning of every human achievement. World-changing inventions- the wheel, the computer, the internet, and the telephone- all began in someone’s imagination. We often assume that the most successful people are the most serious and responsible. In fact, the most successful people are generally the ones who choose work that activates their passion, and then carry out that work with vision and creativity- the fruits of the imagination. Think of people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and Mary Wollstonecraft. They all imagined a world that was different from the one outside their eyes.
The imagination gives us the ability to be anywhere and do anything we want… without leaving our minds. For this reason, it is often more powerful than rationality or willpower. French psychologist Emile Coue demonstrated the power of the imagination using the example of a diet. If you are using your willpower to avoid sweet foods but your imagination is conjuring up images of delicious desserts, your imagination will often win. Whenever we are making a life change or pursuing something new, our imagination must be on our side.
Most of us consider the imagination to be the territory of children. Once we “grow up” many people decide to abandon the imagination in favour of logic and rational thought. We believe we are choosing safety and responsibility over triviality and immature pursuits.
As a result, we have created a world based on rationality rather than the imagination. We create technologies so that we can outsource our imagination to them: movies, TV shows, music, and the internet. Instead of retreating into our powerful imagination for new and novel ideas, we pick up our smartphones. I heard a great term a few years ago called micro-boredom. Micro-boredom occurs in the short spaces of time while we are waiting for something to happen- like waiting in line at the bank, or waiting for public transport, or waiting for a kettle to boil, or waiting for the light to turn green, or waiting for the ads to finish. In these times of micro-boredom, we are looking to fill a hole in our thinking. We have learnt to use technology as a hole filler. In fact, technologies are often invented to fill these holes.
We need to be in control of technology and not the other way around. If anything is used to make us feel better, it can become an addiction. Don’t use technology to fill holes in your day. Before you go to use technology, ask yourself, why am I doing this? Am I doing this to get something I want from my imagination? Would I be better served by deep breathing and entering my imagination? Next time you go to check your phone or watch mindless tv, practice deep breathing instead.
We need to consciously dedicate time to our imagination everyday. If we set up our life to give a central place to the imagination, it begins to serve us and become a healing and relaxing space. And who knows, the imagination may actually have the answer to that niggling work problem you can’t quite figure out, or the simple solution to the colossal amount of stress you have been feeling. The answers are all in the mind and body!