What is it about the word Imagination?
Something about it evokes a feeling of whimsy. Images of bright colors and rainbows pop into my mind and I find myself racing for the construction paper and finger paints. I picture myself in a land of crayons with lollipop fences and a playground made of candy. Why does this happen to me? Am I really just a seven year-old girl at heart? Isn’t it time I grow up? Shouldn’t I have left the playground a long time ago?
I don’t think so. For creative types like me, imagination is a part of life. It’s a large part of the way many of us think. We use it to brainstorm new characters, their problems, and the worlds they will conquer. We imagine putting our characters in unusual situations and spinning new twists on every day events. But what about the other parts of our lives? Does imagination really play that big of a role in the non-writing things we do?
According to Albert Einstein it does. He so famously said:
Logic will get you from A to Z but imagination will take you everywhere.
And who am I to argue with Albert Einstein?
But what exactly is imagination? How does it affect these other things we do? Imagination is the ability to create a mental image of something not perceived by using the five senses. It’s the mind’s ability to build scenes, objects, or events that do not exist in the present and have not existed in the past. But it’s not limited to seeing pictures. Some people imagine more in feelings or through any one of the other senses.
Imagination enables us to experience a whole world inside the mind.
It affects the way we look at the world, and allows us to experience life in whatever way we choose. We can try different images on for size and mold them into something unique to us. We all possess a certain amount of imagination ability, and for some of us it’s a more highly developed skill than others.
We all know children who could be described as dreamers—the types who stare out windows instead of at the pages of their school books. The ones who make up stories about the animals living in the clouds. The ones who play dress up instead of video games. These children are encouraged and praised for their vivid imaginations. But once these children grow into teenagers, we try to rein in their daydreaming and nag them to focus. But isn’t that what they’re doing? Aren’t they focusing on what their mind is exploring? They may be living in the clouds, but is that really so bad? Maybe in the clouds is where the magic is happening.
A developed and strong imagination doesn’t make you a daydreamer without practical focus. It strengthens your creative abilities and is an effective tool for remodeling your world—for remodeling all areas of your life. We all use our imaginations. Sometimes it’s a conscious thought, sometimes it’s an unconscious feeling that occurs while we carry out a mundane task. But in any way it happens, its impact is everywhere:
Imagination affects the way we work.
People with a developed imagination can solve problems more creatively. They can see opportunities that others cannot. Instead of seeing roadblocks, they see an underground tunnel or a pair of wings. They don’t feel stuck in a dead-end job, they envision the job they dream of and create the steps necessary to get it.
Imagination effects the way we love.
People with a developed imagination can hear the same old argument from a spouse, and instead of lashing out, build a solution that makes both partners happy. They can watch their child suffer at the hand of a bully and instead of blaming society, they brainstorm and create a strategy with their child that will build their self-confidence.
Imagination effects the way we play.
People with a developed imagination don’t wish for time to play tennis or learn a language or go on a hike. They get creative with their household chores and work schedules. They tackle those challenges in unconventional ways, and reward themselves with a plan that allows them time to play hard.
A developed imagination is a power, a creator of circumstances and events. When you know how to work with it and channel it, it plays an important role in the success of any endeavor—whether you’re planning a meeting or a planning party; building a sandcastle or building an organized household; running a marathon or running a multi-million dollar company.
So when you find yourself daydreaming about your story, your next vacation, your dream job, or an organized closet, don’t fight the process—encourage it. The image or feeling or scent your mind creates will manifest into exactly what you imagine…something amazing—something you’ve created!
Encouraging this process is easier for some of us than it is for others. In a future post I’ll be talking about ways you can develop your own imagination. Until then, let your mind swirl with whatever images, thoughts, and feelings it wants to. Something you’ve never dreamed of may come to mind and it may end up in your next story…or it may help you solve a problem at work. Because remember, logic only gets you so far. Albert Einstein said so!
As I mentioned last week, I’ll be adding more materials to Swirl and Spark Academy soon. I’ll be expanding on the topic of imagination and how it can impact your success. Imagination isn’t just for kids. It’s for kids at heart too–even those of us who seem to be forever stuck on that candy-filled playground!