Exercising Your "Imagination Muscle"

Imagination ignites the flame of passion that drives us to fulfill our dreams. It leads us to new ideas that can change the world, ideas that currently might sound far-fetched or downright silly. For instance, when Henry Ford created the first vehicle, Literary Digest stated that the car would only be used by the wealthy and it would never become as common as the bicycle. The telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, was disregarded as a toy before it became a huge success less than a decade later. If we all succumbed to what was deemed practical, we wouldn't bend the ideas of "normal" and create life-changing inventions.

Neil Gaiman once said, "The imagination is a muscle. If it is not exercised, it atrophies." But how can we exercise our imaginations? The best way is to practice using your imagination daily. And there are plenty of ways we can do that beyond the obvious.

By using our imagination, we have the power to change our reality. Imagination is vital for activism: We can create the world we want from the ideas we choose to put into focus, so if we take our thoughts and turn them into positive routes, we can steer our life down a path of endless possibilities. When reality doesn't have much to offer, our imagination can keep us optimistic and working toward the life we want to obtain.

Using visualization techniques can be a great escape during stressful or overwhelming times in our lives, especially when we find ourselves struggling to relax. We can effectively work the mind's muscle by imagining a peaceful place where all of our worries melt away.

We can use our imagination muscle pragmatically by making plans for the future, shopping for a new item, trying to attract new clients, or working to solve potential predicaments. It can be applied to entice all of the senses, from imagining the notes of a song before writing it down to visualizing how two foods might taste together before attempting to create a new dish. Using your thoughts to trigger sensory information can empower you to conceive new ideas and give you a sense of pleasure where you didn't expect to find it.

What are some techniques for stimulating your creativity and working your imagination muscle? You could try meditation to eliminate the noise that often gets in the way of creative thinking. If you use public transportation, take that time to doodle, write, or create inventions out of ordinary objects you see through the window. Reading a book can also encourage your imagination to start churning, allowing you to picture the scene inside of your mind.

Take some time to daydream because, as Edgar Allen Poe said, "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." Use this as an excuse to take a break from your daily task list and simply notice your existence. Where do you imagine yourself going from here? Tap into those dreams wandering through your mind. You don't have to search for their meaning, but by simply being curious about the images you conjure up, you can set your imagination off on a journey to self-expression.

We encourage you also to carve out time to play and create. Do you remember a time when you held a glass bottle in the air and imagined it was a rocket ship blasting off into space? Maybe you made whooshing sounds while you imagined flying to Mars to meet up with your Martian friends for a galactic tea. Try to take yourself back to this playful mentality and create something out of it. Maybe paint what those aliens look like or design a bottle into a model spaceship. It may sound like child's play, but don't knock it until you've tried it. You might just find a world-changing spark of inspiration up in the stars.