What Is Imagination And Do You Use It?

We will spend some time how to use your imagination however, when it comes to using your imagination, there is one critical rule that can never, ever be broken. That rule is that “there are no rules in imagination”. 

Your private inner world

Nobody can bother you here. It’s your own “other world”. You can go inside to this inner world anytime you want for as long as you want. You are the king and you can decide to do anything. You can even invent your own new laws of physics – or maybe don’t have any at all.

There are a million things that you cannot have or experience in the real world but you can have and experience in abundance in your other world instantly. You can over indulge and experience them again and again knowing that your glutenous day dream will have no impact on your outer world. It just feeds your every instantaneous desires in a parallel universe. Do you want to win an Olympic gold medal? Why stop at one? Go ahead and win 100 of them. You can do it right now. Want to have sex with every sports Illustrated model ever? You can do it. If you want to challenge your imagination just a little, try imaging having sex with all of them at the same time. Forget about the fact that they will reject you in the outer world, that most of them are really old in the outer world, that it would be impossible to get them all into one location at the same time in the outer world, that some may be dead in the outer world. This is all irrelevant information. Just go ahead and construct this mother of all parties in your private inner world and indulge in it. If you’re not into women, then use whatever you are into. Dare I say it, it doesn’t even have to be human or even exist.

What about using your imagination to learn more about yourself? Sometimes it can be enjoyable to explore this inner world without any predetermined ideas or plans and simply sit back and watch a totally unpredictable movie that happens to be totally written and directed by you. It’s all you. All the weird things that you encounter in these “exploratory sessions” is all you. When you set aside the restraint and logic conferred on your thinking by the prefontal cortex and just set your mind free to go anywhere and do anything without a plan or any pre conceived thoughts you may be “very surprised and interested” in where you end up.

Imagination exercises

I will leave it to you to use your own imagination to create the totally nonsensical and entertaining joyrides through your own mind. The imagination exercises I’m suggesting here have been selected for a more specific purpose. They are intended to help you view your own world a little differently. Although some of the objectives behind these exercises can be achieved by answering questions in a questionnaire, I’m sure you just rolled your eyes and got slightly bored when you read the words “questions” and “questionnaire” so now you understand why I’m suggesting that you do this exercise with your imagination instead.

I cannot stress enough how critical it is to be refreshed when you explore your imagination (or do anything important for that matter). If you are feeling tired or lazy your imagination will generate tired and lazy movies.

Exercise one. Imagine yourself as someone else. Do it with people close to you, strangers, people you hate. Your reality is “very” different from mine and from everyone else’s. People do not  see the world the way you do. They do they not prioritize the things you prioritize. Many of them probably think you are unjustifiably biased, interpreting important events incorrectly, have a sinister agenda and maybe really weird . They may be right. 

Exercise two. Imagine having a conversation with a version of yourself that is 10 years older, 20 years older, 30 years older, until you have one with a very old version of yourself and one with yourself on your final day on earth. Assuming you’re old enough, try the same exercise in reverse and have conversations with the younger version of yourself. When you do this, don’t just think about the conversation think about everything in the surrounding area, how you feel toward this person, what he or she looks like, what the expressions on his or her face looks like. Look into that person’s soul and ask yourself what you sense is really going on in there. I did this with a very old version of myself. This is a very brief summary of private conversation were the vast majority of the conversation will never be released into the outer world: I sat at table with very old man whose body was frail but his mind was 100% lucid. As I looked into his eyes, it was instantaneously obvious that I was looking at a wiser version of myself and I would not have the wiggle room to in any way refine or pad the truth. We both know that this was a situation where small talk was out of the question. We were sitting on a traditionally tiled white terrace in the Greek islands overlooking the Aegean Sea. As a result of being at a high elevation the sky occupied most of my visual canvas. There was a gentle breeze. It was just cool enough for me to feel it against my skin. The only thing I wanted to talk about was, after all of the effort that had gone into life up to this point, what really mattered? I was in fear of traveling down the wrong road. I wanted to know if I should find a way to totally disconnect from my existing life and create a different reality. This was the most desperate conversation I’ve ever had in my life. 

Add spices 

Your imagination is incredible on its own but you can also add some spicy ingredients. If you add the right music, the right setting and other carefully selected emotional triggers to an active imagination you can easily explode into what seems like a whole other plane of existence. Why even come back to reality? How can reality even compete?

Imagine your future

This is something that we all do, both consciously and unconsciously. For example when we are looking at a new house we will instinctively imagine what our lives will be like in that house. We picture, in our minds eye, what it will be like to relax in the living room, cook in the kitchen, and sleep in the bedroom. 

Your imagination combines the things that our senses are detecting in the new house with historic information about our lives along with a predetermined view of what we want our future to look like and using it told to create a future projection. When we see this projection we are able to make a decision about whether we want that projection to become reality or if we prefer a different reality. The same thing happens when we’re considering buying any product, entering into a relationship, deciding to watch a movie, etc. This is a very practical use of imagination. It’s involuntary. There’s no way to turn it off. We are hardwired to pursue the best future that we can get. This means working through a decision making process and the decisions are made based on the future projections (or previews) provided by our imagination.

It costs nothing

We have all heard the expression, “the best things in life are free”. When people say that they often refer to things like love, family, friends, etc. However, some people may not have love in their lives. Others might not have family or, if they do, they are estranged from them. Some people have very few friends, or they do, they are not close friends. The best example of “the best things in life are free” is your imagination (. With the possible exception of certain mental illnesses, there is no scenario in your life where you have no imagination. You will always have it a regardless of who and what is in your life and it will always cost nothing to use it. It costs nothing to maintain it. It’s power does not diminish over time. 

Everybody can do it

Imagination is not something that is only available to some people and not others. You don’t have to learn to use it in the sense that you don’t have to learn to run – it comes with being human (although you can definitely benefit from learning to use it better and there will be more on this below). It doesn’t matter if you live in poverty, are missing all of your limbs, are young or old, rich or poor, what language you speak, what country you are living in. You can use it if you’re confined in a prison cell. You don’t even have to know how to read and write! The single best thing about being a human (after getting life) is that you get it imagination. 

Solving problems

When you have a problem to solve you will use your imagination to identify possible solutions. Then you will use your imagination to test each possible solution to see if it will likely work. Your imagination does this by using all of the knowledge and experience that has been acquired up until now in your mind to construct a projection that implements your proposed solution. 

We have all heard the expression “creative problem-solving”. Creative problem-solving means using your imagination in a way that considers everything as opposed to just the obvious, narrowly defined options that may be easily visible. However, your imagination will always be limited by your personal development. Your personal development is a combination of the knowledge and experience that you have acquired up to this point in time. For example, if you are diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that does not have a cure it is much more likely that a medical professional that specializes in that cancer will come up with a creative solution than it is that you will come up with a creative solution. Even if your imagination is better than that of the medical professional your imagination is limited by its lack of knowledge of this particular cancer. Your imagination simply doesn’t have the “tools” to find a solution. A highly developed imagination along with a high level of knowledge and experience in a particular field would combine to maximizes the likelihood of solving the problem. 

So this creates another four-quadrant graph. People that have high levels of knowledge and good imaginations are most likely to be able to solve problems (let’s call them “category one” people). People that only have one or the other have some chance of solving a problem but they are limited (let’s call them “category two” and “category three” people). People that have limited knowledge and a limited imagination essentially have no hope of solving a challenging problem (let’s call them “category four” people). People that fit in the first category, those that have active imaginations and high levels of knowledge, will obviously be the most valuable people in the workforce today and tomorrow. This triggers two interesting questions regarding societies in developed countries. One is, is our education system set up to develop category one people and the second is, what proportion of the existing workforce does NOT fit into category one and what does the future hold for them?

Imagination and relaxation

If you want to relax you have three options. One of them is using an external stimulant. For example, listening to music, spending time with a loved one, eating or drinking, sex, watching TV, playing games, taking drugs, etc. Clearly, some of these stimulants are beneficial to humans while others are not. Your second option is meditating. This generally involves quieting the mind by focusing your mind on something very simple such as your breath. The third option is to imagine something that relaxes you. 

This can include reliving a relaxing experience or imagining a relaxing experience that has never happened. It is often better to imagine a relaxing experience that has never happened because you have full control over what happens, whereas reliving a previous relaxing experience is inherently limited by history. If the objective is relaxation then adhering to the exact facts of history is totally irrelevant. Invent your own version of what happened and make it as relaxing as possible, or, just start with a clean slate.

Next article in this series “Important People And Imagination”

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