Have a Big Imagination

Whether you're a teen or an adult, it can benefit your life to expand your imagination. Doing so can help you brainstorm solutions to problems, develop bigger goals, and widen your worldview. Start having a bigger imagination by finding what inspires you, getting into the right mindset, and then putting what you've learned into action.


Finding Inspiration

  1. Read books by or about imaginative people. Learning about something new expands your mind and increases the possibility of increasing your imagination. Read as much as you can to draw inspiration and to increase your knowledge.
    • Find a subject you are interested in and read as much as you can about it. Then, go onto other subjects. Remember, don’t close yourself off; try something new and you may discover other interests which can lead to a larger imagination. Consider It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden or Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono.[1]
  2. Ask questions. Find someone you know who has a large imagination and ask them questions. Interviewing them may give you some ideas on activities or techniques that you can use to enhance your imagination. You can also talk to someone who is doing something you are interested in, like an artist or doctor. Learn from people you want to be like and it can take you far.
    • Don’t limit yourself to only staged interviews. Carry a notebook with you and walk up to people who are engaging in something you like or admire. Pick their brain and you could find yours making room for a bigger imagination.[2]
  3. Find some creative friends. Creative people can open up that part of you that wants to become more imaginative. Learning how they spend their time and what they do to get their creative juices flowing, as well as simply being around them can help you become more like the person you want to be.
    • Look online to find clubs that meet near you to connect with creative people. Sign up for an art class, look for paint nights at restaurants, attend a pottery demonstration, or find something where you can interact with people who are creative.[3]
  4. Draw or sketch. With your busy life you may find difficulty in finding time to draw. However, if you can take just a few minutes out of your day to draw or even doodle, you can become much more creative than you already are. Simply pick up your pencil or pen and create the first thing that comes into your mind.
    • Grab a pen and paper the next time you are on a long phone call and allow yourself to doodle. Whether it’s circles, spirals, dots, hearts, or designs you can’t make out, expressing yourself in this manner can help you to expand your imagination.[4]
  5. Build with toys. There’s a reason why playing is encouraged in schools for younger kids: it builds the mind and enhances imagination. Take time out of your day to build something using toys. It can relieve your stress and help you to become more creative.
    • Carry a small set of Legos or another building activity with you when you travel. Play with it when you’re between meetings, on a layover, or are bored in your hotel room.[5]
  6. Don't count on drugs or alcohol. There's an age-old myth that people use drugs and alcohol to find inspiration for their creative pursuits. Sadly, the only potential results to substance abuse are health problems and an early grave. You don't need mind-altering substances to boost your imagination. In truth, you'll be at your best when you're sober anyway.[6]

Getting Into the Right Mindset

  1. Understand your potential. The biggest obstacle you face may be yourself. Doubting yourself won’t get you anywhere. Realizing that you are just as capable as anyone else to have a big imagination allows you to get there.
    • Say this to yourself when you are unsure of your potential: “I am bright and creative and have a good imagination. I have the capacity of expanding my imagination and it can become as large as I want.”[2]
  2. Open your mind. Imagination and creativity go hand-in-hand. Closing your mind off to new possibilities and situations will prevent your imagination from expanding. Instead, allow yourself to come up with new ideas, no matter how absurd or outlandish they may seem.
    • Avoid disregarding any of your ideas and don’t give yourself any parameters when brainstorming. Consider all of your ideas as valuable. Even what may seem like a bad idea can turn into something more.[3]
  3. Reverse the obstacles. You may find that you just can’t get your mind to be creative anymore. Everyone faces challenges, but fortunately, you may be able to combat this blockage.
    • For instance, write down the reasons why you may not be able to think of anything new. Then write down the opposite. For example, you could say, “I’m tired and can’t think straight.” The opposite would be, “I’m full of energy and am thinking clearly.” Now decide what you can do to get to the more positive approach.[7]
  4. Begin thinking in metaphors. Many people think literally. That is, they see something and think that it is only that. When you think in metaphors, however, your mind and creativity expand. You challenge yourself to see things that you wouldn’t normally otherwise.
    • For instance, the next time you see a cloud, think of it as a shape, a pillow for birds, or something else that isn’t what it literally is. You’ll find yourself looking at other objects in the same way.[7]
  5. Support physical and mental health. Your brain and body function at their best when you give them the right ingredients--that is, healthy foods, exercise, rest, and stress-management. Develop a health model that helps you support your well-being and your imagination.
    • For instance, choose brain-healthy foods omega-3 fats (e.g. flaxseed and salmon), whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and flavanoids and polyphenols (e.g. green tea).[8]
    • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days.
    • Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
    • Relax often whether through meditation or a passion project like painting.

Getting Down to Business

  1. Carry out your plan. Dive into your interests. Do whatever it is you want to do with your big imagination. There’s no time like the present, even if you think you aren’t there yet. Starting now will just build your creativity even more.
    • Begin writing, drawing, sculpting, dancing, or whatever interests you. Challenge yourself, if you can. Make a goal to write a story or paint a picture every day. You’ll just become more skilled in your craft and increase your creativity.[5]
  2. Try something new. Doing something you’ve never done before can light a fire under your creativity. It can give you the confidence to try other new activities and inspire your ideas. Leave your inhibitions at the door and go have some fun.
    • Tag along with your friends to participate in a new activity. Having someone there with you may make you feel more comfortable and encourage you to dive right in.[3]
  3. Make your environment work for you. You may be surprised at how much your surroundings can affect you. Create an environment that makes you feel comfortable and you’ll likely see an improvement in your creativity. Even if you have to rent a studio space, it will be worth it when you see your imagination flow.
    • Surround yourself with pictures and objects that inspire you. Place comfortable furniture in your space and play music that gets you creative. Block out all negativity and just let your mind go free. You’ll likely create the best work you ever have.[4]
  4. Reframe failure. One of the biggest deterrents to imagination and creativity is the fear of failure. However, if you use your imagination to redefine how you look at failure, you can overcome this common roadblock.[9]
    • Practice positive reframing in which "I failed" becomes "I haven't succeeded yet." Then, make a list of every avenue you've tried. Cross of the ineffective strategies and use your imagination to come up with new ways to tackle your problem.

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Sources and Citations

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