Provision #133: Imagine That

LifeTrek Provision

With this LifeTrek Provision I’m back to the mind • building those dendrites,the connections between nerve cells that help the mind to stay eternally young.While the number of brain cells decrease with age, the number of connectionsincrease as we exercise our mental faculties. The more we use our brains, themore connections are made. It’s that simple.

Five weeks ago I encouraged you to use your mind, mentioning bothcritical thinking and creative imagination. They’re both important. Criticalthinking such as problem-solving and mathematical calculating sets off anexplosion of neural activity. The harder we think the more dendrites we build.

The same goes for creative imagination. Visualize an object, a place,an odor, a condition, a sound, or an activity • capture it vividly in your mind– and the brain becomes a neural firestorm of wonder and amazement. When mychildren were younger we read to them a book about colors. After all the colorshad been introduced, it included the line, “Imagine that, a rainbow cat.”

Humans have the ability to imagine things that have never been or nevercould be as well as the ordinary and the commonplace. Albert Einstein calledthis our true genius. “Imagination,” he said, “is more important than knowledge.”The ancient Hebrew prophets would have agreed wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately most of us stop using our imaginations after childhood.Ask a young child to play a pretend game, and they’re likely to plunge in withgusto. Ask an adult and you may get a groan. We would do well to heed the wordsof Dr. Seuss. “I like nonsense,” he said, “it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasyis a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through thewrong end of a telescope. (It’s what) enables (us) to laugh at life’srealities.”

When was the last time that you woke up your brain cells with nonsense?When was the last time that you imagined, in vivid detail, the perfect day, theperfect vacation, the perfect life, the perfect world, or the perfectly impossible?It’s really not hard to do, if you give yourself permission and take the time.

Go ahead and do itnow. Here are a few suggestions to help get the juices flowing:

  • Writeout your creative visualization. Make it plain. Be specific. Describe your visionof any or all of the above.
  • Drawyour vision. Use pencils, chalks, crayons or paints. Don’t worry about notbeing an artist or it not being any good. The fun is in creating the picture.
  • Doodle.Allow your mind to wander. As pictures come to mind, observe them with interestbut don’t force them to stay or to leave. They’re gifts to be appreciated andenjoyed.
  • Recordyour dreams. A pad and pencil by the side of the bed is a necessaryprerequisite. Don’t worry if you “never remember your dreams.” The pad andpencil will change that.
  • Entertainthe impossible. Paradoxes, or two seemingly contradictory ideas or visions, canunclog the neural networks of habit and launch new pathways of mind.

Creative imagination is one of the most powerful tools we have to notonly build dendrites and keep the mind young, but to change our individual andcollective lives. Whether in sport or life, business or pleasure, we cannotmake rapid progress unless we use our mind to calculate and create a vision ofwhere we’re going. That is where it starts: in the mind. Get the vision, thetarget that beckons, and everything else will follow.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC