“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Did you know that most of Einstein’s Theories were thought experiments? A thought experiment is using one’s imagination to conduct an experiment. Can you imagine that? (no pun intended). I often picture Einstein sitting at his desk with pipe smoldering, eyes closed, and thinking up the theory of relativity or gravity bending light? What a mind!
Another topic this quote brings up for me is the act of visualization. Do you realize that a good portion of our Olympic athletes and professional sports players visualize exactly what they will do before they do it? I remember a Winter Olympics a few years back and watching a member of the U.S. Ski team visualizing her entire run in her mind before she did it.
Visualization is a powerful tool for any of us. You can use visualization to replay a scene in your mind you would like to fix. The late Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”, describes how he helped his son perform better in football by visualizing passing the ball perfectly. He also worked with his son on a tactic that would help him drop a bad play that just occurred by snapping his wrist band. Imagine how powerful that is. Dr. Covey calls this process, “…rewriting the script.” He was referring to the scripts we have playing in our mind. Another name for these scripts is a neural pathway. You see your brain is so efficient at conserving energy it automates everything. It automates your thoughts, your feelings in certain situations, how to open a door, how to drive a car, and how to use a knife, spoon, and fork.
We can use the power of visualization ourselves. We can envision something we want and visualize how that future scene will look like, smell, feel, and sound. In fact, the more senses you can imagine in this desired scene, the more powerful it is. Another aspect of the brain is that it doesn’t know the difference between these visualizations and reality. Do you doubt that? Imagine biting into a lemon and see how much you salivate. It works.
I am a fledgling author. I visualize myself at a book signing. A simple visualization with a stack of books on either side of me. I can feel the pencil. I can smell the newness of my books. I can taste the coffee I have next to me that I bought at the Barnes & Noble cafe in another part of the store. I see the smiles of the people that are in line and exchange pleasantries with the people marveling at my book and wanting to shake hands with the author D.L. Gardner (this will be my pen name). This is all it takes. Visualize your most important goal every day and your mind will work night and day to help you achieve that goal. Why does your mind do this you ask? It is called cognitive dissonance. When your mind sees a difference between what you have now and what you want or visualize, it begins working on strategies and action steps you can take to eliminate this dissonance. This dissonance occurs when your brain recognizes differences in the present with the visualization you give it of the future. Your brain sees this visualization as “real”. Subsequently, it will do all it can to alleviate the stress that this dissonance causes.
You can use your imagination to create anything you want. I have a few fiction authors who I interact with. How do you think they create meaningful prose for their readership? You guessed it—they create their worlds, the scenes, the scenarios, their characters, and the dialogue with their imagination. For some of you this may be a HUGE no-brainer. Think about the imagination of the greats like Disney, Faulkner, King, and Tolkien. Imagine creating the worlds they have created. It is possible.
Your imagination is a powerful tool for creating poetry, books, new devices, and programs. It can create a new business that serve untold thousands. It is all available to each of us. We only have to use it and let it run free. Then, it takes the courage to pursue these creations despite our self-doubt, the naysayers, and all of those boogie men we create in our mind to defeat ourselves.
When I am deeply involved with a visualization or use my imagination, I feel like a kid sometimes. I feel like I can do anything I want. It really is a wonderful thing to imagine and visualize the future you want for you and your family. It is one of those human powers that allowed us to utilize fire, build the steam engine, and exploit the electron.
Try this out with something you want to do. What have you got to lose?
Until next time…