Create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
The imagination is an absolute marvel of the human species. It’s the ability to see something that doesn’t exist — at least not yet. Almost everything starts in the mind and then becomes a piece of our day-to-day reality through our actions. With a simple closing of our eyes, we can build worlds, musical pieces, and desired life events and better versions of ourselves.
The imagination has incredible positive power, but it can also cause a lot of grief, stress, and anxiety. When we use our imagination to think about terrible outcomes constantly – we often get those terrible outcomes. Although not all negative thinking leads to negative outcomes, and in some cases, negative thinking may be useful, such as in the practice of negative visualization.
No matter how you decide to use your imagination, there are benefits. It’s not just some silly tool for children or bored college students.
Here are three legitimate reasons to use your imagination.
Imagining Creations and Life Events
You can use your imagination to manifest things or events that currently don’t exist. I don’t mean the whole ‘positive thinking’ magic that is preached in documentaries like The Secret. I don’t believe you can just wish things into existence without putting any action behind it. However, you can build an idea in your head and pursue that idea. Visualizing the creation you want to make or life event will help you identify those things out in the real world.
For example, if you visualize going on a trip to Hawaii, your brain will start looking for patterns or opportunities in the real world to help make it become a reality. A recent study also found that visualizing an activity may also give you similar results to doing it. The study posted on Psychology Today found that people who visualized exercising increased their strength by 13.5% without ever lifting a weight. This new evidence shows that visualization may not only be positive for creating life events but also have the beneficial effects of doing an activity while not actually doing it.
Imagining Your Way To Good Emotions
People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains … Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul. – Marcus Aurelius
The imagination has the power to manifest both positive and negative emotions. In therapy, counselors often call the negative side of the imagination ‘stinkin’ thinkin.’ The downside of imagination is when you quickly spiral into thoughts that don’t necessarily reflect reality but instead paint it black. So you might lose your job and think “I’ll never get a job again, I’m totally screwed, There is no hope, I’ll be homeless in a week.” We then often turn to drowning out our negative thinking with expensive vacations or substances.
However, Instead of drowning out negative thinking with escapism, use your imagination to change it. One exercise for creating positive emotions is to imagine you are somewhere tranquil. Imagine that you are in the woods next to a lake or some place you find peaceful. Just the process of stepping into this imaginary world will have a direct effect on your current state of emotions. Why? Because scientists have found that the brain cannot distinguish the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.
Imagining Who You Wish To Become
No one is perfect, and almost everyone has something they want to change about themselves. This desire for change is a normal part of being human and our natural drive to be better. For example, some people may want to lose weight while others want to be more successful. If you want to be more successful, you have first to have a vision of what success means. Does success mean money? Happiness? Freedom? Helping other people? Paint a picture with your imagination of what success looks like. Who will you be and what will you be doing for yourself and others? What traits will you gain and what will you lose? How will life be for you when you make those changes?
Once you have an idea of who it is you want to evolve into — use your imagination to see the new actions you will have to take to accomplish your personal changes. Start bringing your imagined self into reality by taking action.
The imagination is incredibly powerful and useful. So many successful people have shared how using vision and imagination changed their lives. The best part about imagination is that everyone is capable of using it at any time.