Remember when you were a kid and could spend hours lost in an imaginary world? As we grow up, we gradually lose that uninhibited ability, as cynicism and scepticism creep in with the advent of adulthood.
But there’s no reason we can’t still actively get lost in our imaginations sometimes as adults – in fact, we should probably do it a lot more.
“The adult working mind can be professional and productive, but can worry and get stressed,” says marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind.
We can often become rigid and lose our child-like imagination, which helps keep our mind sharp and creative as we age, she says.
Using our imagination lights up a different part of the brain than analytic thought, cognition, and math or science, Ziskind explains. It activates that child-like wonder and curiosity in us, allowing for a sense of carefree playfulness.
“Instead of being stressed by the past or anticipation of the future, using your imagination will bring you [into] the present moment,” Ziskind says.
Though we might dismiss being imaginative as child’s play, this ability is pretty powerful, and we can use it to our advantage.
“Our imaginations are what allow us to accomplish things in life that we never thought possible,” says author and motivational speaker Tom Corner.
“Using our imaginations is what allows us evolve,” he says. “Our imaginations allowed us to land on the moon. Our imaginations allowed us to create the smartphone.”
So how do we get more imaginative?
For one thing, exercise and good sleep are believed to help stimulate our imagination and creative thinking.
Ziskind also recommends:
- Laughter yoga
- Healing visualization meditations
- Hanging out with children (if you don’t have kids of your own, let your friends’ children remind you what it’s like to really tap in to your imagination)
“Children come into the world from pure positive energy,” Corner says, “meaning they do not know what resistance is – i.e. fear, doubt, anger, etc. They view the world through the eyes of acceptance and love. As adults, our fears cloud this ‘child-like’ view of the world.”
Both Corner and Ziskind encourage using imagination to envision the things we would like to achieve.
“Imagination can help with goal setting, to visualize where you want to be in your bright future, and imagining where you want to be can help you get there!” Ziskind says.
Incorporating your imagination (by way of visualizing your goals, desires, etc.) into your meditation practice can be particularly powerful. As the late philosopher and self-help author, Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Your imagination is your own fertile field for growing any seedlings that you choose to plant for a future harvest.”