Imagination, the grounds from which creativity and innovation grow
An elusive state of existence filling your world with wonder and opportunity. Imagination exists where many of us desire to dwell. The almost magic-like ability that gives us humans the ability to form ideas and ignition of the ‘flow’ state many of the world’s top athletes and entrepreneurs access. Your imagination allows you to think of things that don’t even exist (yet), technology, smells, planets, games, songs, and the list goes on!
Most of your daily tasks and the lifetime of schooling you’ve been through require(d) an excellent memory and information recall. These tasks demand minimal neural activity because our brain is processing familiar information. When our mind is engaged in imagination, our brains are literally building new neural mappings because the “brain can’t rely on connections that have been shaped by past experience” (i.e. your brain’s internal territory gets new highways!).
We could go on regarding the numerous benefits, but we value your time. So how do we actually expand our imaginations?! Here are three exercises you can do daily to expand your imagination:
1. CHALLENGE YOUR PERCEPTION
An interesting study found that: “the vast majority of information is not coming from the eyes, but from memory. In fact, it is now estimated that visual perception is 80% memory and 20% input through the eyes. In other words, sensory information is not transmitted to the brain; it comes from it.” – Jennifer Bornstein. Crazy!
Activity: Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and for 5-15 seconds look at something specific near you (a tree, a dog, a landscape, city buildings, literally anything). Now looking only at the paper in hand, write down every single detail you can remember about what you just saw. Finally, check your work. Look back and forth between what you wrote down and see what’s different. Are there details you missed? Things you couldn’t remember? Parts that were actually different?
*This exercise can be done by sketching as well
2. FIND ADVENTURE
Experiencing environments you have zero experience within is one of “the surest ways to provoke the imagination” (The Neuroscience of Imagination)
Activity: Try to learn a new skill, plan a trip to a new city or country, cook a meal you’ve never made before, or even drive to a part of town you never go to.
Is it any coincidence that children are both imaginative powerhouses and absolutely playing fanatics? A test designed by NASA to discover the creative potential in their future scientists and engineers found that an amazing 98% of children scored at a genius level only to be reduced to 12% of the same group of 1,600 kids by the time they were in high-school! Curious and befuddled, the originators of the test have continued with consistent results ***replicated over a million times** (George Land, Beth Jarman (1992), Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future – Today)*.
Activity: 30min - 1 hr of imaginative play
Go on a hike, to a lake, or lay in your backyard and allow yourself to imagine whatever comes to mind. Connecting with your inner child through early memories, meditating, or journaling can be helpful.
Afterward jot down how you felt. Was it challenging? Did ideas come flooding out? Did it feel kind of silly and unproductive? Be curious about why you felt the way you did about the exercise and how this may relate to your current imaginative processes.
We at Human Creative Coaching believe these tools can be helpful and powerful for your day/week! If you found this blog post encouraging and motivating, consider joining the movement by subscribing at the top of the blog, or supporting by sharing on social media or reaching out! Our growth as Human Creative Coaching helps us help more humans!
Check out our additional blogs here or read more from our posts on Creativity: