Where did our imagination go? Laying on the grass looking up at puffy clouds in the sky trying to find animals, people, or things we could give names to, "It looks like a dinosaur taking a nap" or "I see a huge butterfly doing backflips," or "I see a tree full of monkeys." We would then laugh at our mental meanderings. These were the days of wonderment when children were allowed to consider and contemplate the possibilities. Where did those days go? We have stopped imagining the "what if's" in exchanged for the "what is." All too often, what is isn't pleasant or desirable and can be discouraging and difficult.
What if we could use our imagination to have a better outcome in life? Sometimes our imaginings of ourselves in better times is all it takes to give us hope.
One client, who came in for depression and an overall sense of hopelessness, was able to find a reason to live by changing her focus:
"My focus is grace and my purpose is a mist that is waiting to materialize.
I know I have a calling on my life." - Stephanie
During the 1980's there were many "motivational" speakers who were popping up all over the place. They would offer wisdom and personal stories of overcoming adversity to become the Mogul or Icon in their particular industry. They spoke to business owners who were looking for encouragement. They focused on women, or men, or youth. They wrote books and made millions of dollars giving seminars and people would flock to see them. Everyone in the audience was hoping to be encouraged as they returned to their jobs, families, and lives. They lacked hope and couldn't find encouragement on their own.
One of the skills most important in imagination is called VISUALIZATION. It's the ability to SEE yourself in certain circumstances. It was a skill taught to Olympic athletes. Sports Psychologists would direct their clients to close their eyes and imagine themselves going down the steep mountain on long skis feeling the snow beneath their feet as they sped toward the cliff where they would push off the ground with exact timing and soar through the air to a perfect landing hundreds of yards down the mountain. Basketball players were told to "Be the ball" and Baseball players imagined the ball coming to meet the bat at precisely the right place on the bat where a homer waited. Employers were told to visualize their business free of problems and making the kinds of profits they wish they could make. Everyone was being taught to look at what could be and to pursue it instead of staying stuck in the muck of their circumstances.
The Bible even tells us to visualize but it's referred to as meditation. It tells us to imagine what our lives could look like through a positive perspective,
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV)
Life will always have difficulty, problems, and heartache waiting to consume our thoughts. We can't escape life's challenges but we don't have to focus on them either. We can press past them knowing that tomorrow holds a new sunrise, now possibilities, and new hope. Close your eyes. Breath deeply. And imagine that.