Children, in certain ways, are much wiser than adults are. Children understand the importance of playing and having fun. They are more accepting of themselves and others. And they know how powerful the imagination is.
Somehow, somewhere those wise practices and attitudes typically get lost during the transition from childhood to adulthood. What if you could reclaim them?
This post is about exactly that. You have permission to enjoy your life. And you get to be like a kid again sometimes. You get to reconnect with your inner child and lead from your heart.
The following 5 options for how to use your imagination come from Mike Dooley’s exercise called “Powering Up Your Imagination.” Think of your imagination as if it’s a muscle. With these options, you can strengthen the muscle of your imagination.
“Do something out of the ordinary to make you change how you think.” – Mike Dooley
Option #1: Play
30 minutes is the recommended amount of time for this option. Here you can do whatever comes to mind.
Worry is imagining something going wrong. Very wrong.
With the option to Play, imagine that something goes very right instead. Turn your worries upside down, inside out, and backwards.
Instead of worrying about something, think of how the best possible scenario could play out. Pretend that the universe and everything within it is cheering you on and working in your favor. You might even discover that your pretending ends up being proven true. Stranger things have happened…
Also, when you play, you activate the part of you that believes your dreams can be made real, no matter how impossible they might seem to be. And you remember what it’s like to have something to look forward to. Better than that, you get to be grateful in each moment, which is part of the fun of play. You remember what it’s like to enjoy being alive.
Play with the idea that something really wonderful has happened for you. What is that wonderful something? Who would you celebrate it with? How will you celebrate it?
And also imagine that something really wonderful has happened for someone you care about. What is that wonderful something for them? How will you celebrate it with them?
Spend 30 minutes playing with the best and the brightest that life has to offer you. Who knows? The mere act of excitement could be enough to help bring what you’re pretending into reality.
For now though, let play be its own reward.
Option #2: Let Your Mind Wonder
Maybe as a kid, you were told that you have an overactive imagination or that you think too much.
With this option, you get to embrace the wonderment of where your mind can go. Let your mind wonder about any number of subjects that you’re curious about.
Remember all those silly questions that children come up with?
Well, that can be you as you explore the paths and corridors which open up when you give yourself the freedom to explore the answers to so many questions that you’ve stored up throughout your life.
Experiment. Research. Expand your mind as you look for whatever answers you can find to your seemingly silly questions and your not so silly questions, too.
Who knows where your thoughts will take you?
“By allowing your mind to freely wonder, you allow it to become more adventurous, more limitless, and more creative. You permit yourself to think in a brand new way.” – Mike Dooley
These options for using your imagination are both fun and practical.
Now for an option where you get to enjoy someone else’s use of their imagination…
Option #3: Watch a Fantasy Movie or Read a Fantasy Book
This option is especially recommended if you don’t regularly watch movies or read books that are in the fantasy genre.
Besides movies and books, this option can also include comic books, graphic novels, video games, tabletop games, and other means of fantasy storytelling. If it’s part of the fantasy genre, then it counts for this option.
What happens when you watch or read a fantasy story? Do you find yourself caught up in the worlds that writers and other creative artists have come up with? Does your imagination get swirling with the possibilities that life itself has to offer?
Fantasy can get you thinking along the lines of considering much more to be possible than you would otherwise. Much more than the every day. Much more than the same old routine.
With fantasy, you can get the idea that magic is available to transform yourself and your life. When I refer to magic, I’m referring to the natural, healthy, positive ability that you always have within you to create a better world. This world. To create a better life. This life.
Fantasy can guide you as you consider the possibilities for your own life. There are certain messages to apply from these stories. You are resilient. You keep bouncing back from hardships. You are greater than you think, stronger than you know, and more powerful than you realize.
Is fantasy escapism? No, it is directly relevant for your daily life and perhaps even necessary for your well-being.
“People are inclined to write off fantasy as escapism, but in fact it’s a roundabout way of engaging with genuine problems.” – Beth Webb
In the next option, you get to make up some stories yourself.
Option #4: Make Up Life Stories
What are other people’s lives like, especially the people that you’ll never get to know?
As you go about your day, it simply isn’t possible to find out what everyone’s lives are like, so you can use your imagination and fill in the blanks on your own. You can make up your own stories for their lives.
What about this person or that person? Are they having a good day or a bad day? What has caused them to be in whatever positive or negative mood that they’re in?
You can go people watching for this option. You can include a friend and do this option together.
Maybe someone is going through a nasty breakup, and that’s why they’re angry. Maybe someone just got a promotion at work, and that’s why they’re happy.
You can come up with a wide variety of stories to explain to yourself or to a friend why people are behaving the way that they are. It’s a bonding activity, and it’s another method for exercising your imagination to make it stronger.
“Do some people watching, and as you’re watching them, make up some stories. … It doesn’t matter what you come up with, but write their story or narrate it with a friend.” – Mike Dooley
You might even be accurate sometimes with the stories that you come up with.
In two of the weekend workshops for acting that I went to many years ago, there was a similar exercise in each of them. One person had their turn at the front of the room, and everyone else simply looked at them and came up with details about the person’s personality and even specific details about what had happened in their lives.
At each workshop, the accuracy level was high and not only when it was my turn to be at the front of the room. I was the only one that was at both workshops, and the other participants were quite accurate, even to the point of complete accuracy. They got the details of my personality correct, and they got specific details of my life correct as well. Simply by looking at me.
I had not told the other participants those details. They guessed those details on their own.
So when you go make up life stories of other people that you see, know that you might be accurate in what you come up with. You are a gifted storyteller, and you have the chance here to flex your muscles as you develop your gift.
And now for the final option in powering up your imagination…
Option #5: Do It Yourself (DIY) Imagination
This option requires that you come up with your own imagination exercise. It could be something similar to any of the previous options or it could be something entirely different. The only limit here is your own imagination.
“Whatever exercise you make up, just make sure it pushes you outside of your regular thinking limits.” – Mike Dooley
When you use your imagination for positive purposes, you get to go beyond the previous limits that you’ve set for yourself. You allow yourself the chance to be surprised at how far you can go.
With those 5 options for how to use your imagination, you can experience what it’s like to be a kid again. Reclaim what might have been lost as you made the transition from childhood to adulthood. You get to play and have fun. You get to be more accepting of yourself and others. And you get to acknowledge how powerful your imagination is.
You have permission to enjoy your life and be like a kid again sometimes. You have permission to reconnect with your inner child and lead from your heart. But you didn’t need permission from me. You only needed to give it to yourself.
Think of your imagination as if it’s a muscle. Strengthen the muscle of your imagination and find out what wonders you can accomplish as you embrace the giant and the genius that you already are.
If you can change your thinking, you can change your life. And oh, how exciting that can be.
Share with me in the comments section below your journey of exploring your imagination. I’d like to hear from you about what you’ve experienced from strengthening your imagination muscle.
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Until next time,