Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. – Gloria Steinem
Imagination is something we tend to associate with children. Unless you are in a stereotypically imaginative field, like the arts, for example, imagination is something you probably don’t exercise that often as an adult.
As we grow older, we tend to question more. We tend to worry more. Life, when it is at its hardest, can make flights of fancy and exercises of the imagination seem trivial or like a waste of time. However, I put to you that imagination is one of the most underrated tools an adult can have. Not only can imagination help us in many parts of our lives, but it can also help to breed happiness and resilience. Indeed, if you are into mindfulness, then a sharp imagination can be very useful for visualisation and right-brain cognitive function.
If you fear that you don’t have much of an imagination, or that it is lost to the archives of childhood, then worry not. Imagination is like a muscle, it just needs a bit of exercise. Here are a few reasons why I think it is worth giving your imagination a workout.
1. It Helps You To Dig Out Of A Rut
When one is in a rut it can be hard to see a way out, let alone act in it. Part of being able to lift ones-self out of a bad headspace is to visualise a moment beyond the dark moment you are currently in and to conceive how you might move towards such a time.
Also, if you have tried everything that you would normally try to lift your spirits and put yourself back on track, imagination will help you. It will make you more able to conceive activities, mind frames and coping mechanisms you may not actually have experienced before.
2. Creativity at Work
Pretty much every job on earth will require, at some point, a problem to be solved. An imaginative mind is able to come up with an array of creative ideas and solutions in a way that a mind without a well-exercised imagination might not. To be known as somebody who can come up with creative solutions, and can add value in that way, can only be a positive thing.
Not only is it good to be this person, but you will find problems in general much easier and less stressful to solve.
3. Being In Your Own Head is More Interesting
Devices, for all their amazing functions and capacities to keep us entertained, are the death of imagination. They do not require us to have one, as they are doing all that imaginative work for us. This means that, if ever you are without a device in front of your eyes, your thoughts are not likely to be a particularly interesting place to be.
There are two solutions here. Either make sure you always have a device on you, should you have some time to kill, or spend some time in your own head exercising your imagination. I think we can all agree, that the latter is probably the healthier and more mindful option. I often exercise my imagination in these moments by designing my dream home in my head or revisiting my favourite holiday destination, Greece, in my mind.
4. Improves Cognitive Function
There is a study out there that proves those who play musical instruments have better connectivity between the left and right sides of their brain than those who don’t. See here, if you are interested. Imagination, similarly, uses both sides of the brain. When the two sides of our brain communicate with each other, our overall cognitive function improves. Imagination not only makes you happier, but it also makes you smarter!
By Chris Thomson
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