All of our greatest innovations, conquests, explorations of self, ways in which we have grown as a human race came from allowing ourselves to explore our imagination and ask the question, “I wonder if this is possible?”
If you think of how you played as a kid and how you shaped worlds to fit your imagination; then made those worlds a reality, that is exactly what you are doing now as an adult.
I think the challenge is that as adults, we are so fixated on making the “right” choice or being “correct” and not allowing ourselves to play more (as we need to be serious adults). Thus preventing ourselves from following our curiosity and stifling our imagination.
Here’s one reason why we don’t play enough as adults.
Look at all the benefits when you allow your imagination to run wild and be free. You get into a state of flow and in that Flow State Vs. Beta State, your brain gets a shot of dopamine as you are now in a more curious state and you are able to see so many more opportunities in front of you, instead of how the adult brain typically acts where it is looking for a specific result.
When you allow yourself to play with your imagination, you are able to also tap back into your inner child where you are your most authentic self (try this exercise below to tap back in). By allowing your imagination to run wild, that is where all the answers that you are seeking live.
Some of these ideas may sound strange, unorthodox, but they may be exactly what you need to hear from yourself because your imagination knows where to lead you.
If you think of your life and how you got to where you are today, it wasn’t a linear path. When we don’t use our imagination and try to plan our lives out in a linear way, we fail miserably and also get super disappointed, as… expectations are the thief of joy.
But when you are curious and willing to follow that curiosity and be open to what your imagination tells you what to do next. For example, when you are traveling and just saying yes to opportunity and in a play-oriented/growth mindset , you find yourself on such a more amazing adventure and discovering things about yourself that you didn’t even know were possible.
Imagine how crazy the Wright Brothers must have been when brainstorming how to make a vehicle that flies, especially being just bike mechanics who had never tried to tackle a problem like this before. Imagine what would have happened instead in the world, if they tried to just be normal and ignore what their imagination was telling them.
Think of your own life and what have you imagined in your life that seemed crazy at first thought, but now is part of what you do in the world.
Our imagination is what makes our evolution as a human race possible and our imagination is what will save us in the end, if we are just willing to play enough to let our imagination out.
Play Experiment To Spark Your Imagination
#1. Find a way to soothe or calm yourself down
The Play Thought Leader, Gwen Gordon, says you are unable to play until you are in a calm state. In a way, you adopt your nervous system from the person who took care of you the most. So, identify the ways that calm you down (I.e. take a shower, go for a walk/run, do morning pages, dance, etc.)
#2. Get Bored
Once you are able to soothe yourself, then allow yourself to get bored. If you think about it, when you were a kid, your best ideas came when you were bored. Also, your most dangerous ideas, but also your best ideas. How do we get bored?
A. Postpone binge-watching Netflix and scrolling through social media for a few hours
Not forever, but you can find some time to not consume media. I have at least found in my experience when I’m consuming so much information, I feel less likely to create as I believe that all ideas have already been made. So, there really are no original ideas left to share.
When I’m not consuming that information and allow myself to get bored, I actually am able to quiet my mind and start to hear my own intuition/inner child/inner curiosity so that I create from a curious, playful place.
B. Get quiet and start listening to your inner voice
It will sound like a whisper. It won’t be allowed, it won’t scream at you, but you know it is real because it will suggest something for you to do that is both exciting and slightly scary. By doing this, you are starting to strengthen your muscle to listen to yourself, block out the noise, and that is when the magic of imagination starts to begin.
#3. Follow Your Curiosity
Simply start listening to that whisper and see where it takes you. It could tell you something as strange as dress up in a costume and dance in your house. The answer actually doesn’t really matter. It’s more important to build the practice of listening to your inner child, your inner curiosity, and simply doing what it says. Because once your inner child realizes that you want to play, it’ll start to speak to you more. Once that happens, the adventure begins.
Here is a great example of the power of using your imagination to change your surroundings even when you are stuck at home:
Originally published at https://www.rediscoveryourplay.com on December 16, 2020.