We are the only animals on the planet who intentionally create art and receive pleasure from merely looking at it. We see evidence of this from the beginning of our existence in the early, primitive art of cavemen and indigenous peoples. We have the capacity to imagine something that is not real, something that begins as a beautiful fantasy in our mind. We can look at a photograph, painting, or sculpture and, even though we know in our minds that it isn’t real, we’re transported into beautiful places with our imaginations.
I’ve been told many times in my life, as late as last week, that I’m not living in the real world. And they are correct. Much of the time, I’m not. I spend a great deal of time fantasizing about a future creation, experience, or dream… driving in my car, walking on the treadmill, eating my breakfast, taking a shower, drifting off to sleep. I can feel the sunlight warming the apartment I’ve rented in Europe for a year. I can smell the fresh paint on the home I’m building. I can taste the fabulous Thanksgiving meal I’m cooking for Tom and I next week. I can feel the cover of my first book as I remove it from the box for the very first time. I giggle with delight at my image in the mirror wearing a great dress on a trim, fit body. I melt inside looking down at the face of my first grandchild in my arms. I smile at the visualization of our country and her citizens having created a new way forward with so much prosperity, freedom, truth, and dignity that it delights and surprises everyone in the entire world. It’s a little like Kermit, the frog… you know, just the lovers, the dreamers, and me.
I’ve also been told, even recently, that I’m lucky. They are also right. And I believe there is a direct connection between the two: my imagination and my luck. As time goes on, I have more and more evidence that the strength of my luck is directly commensurate with my ability to fantasize or imagine what makes me feel good… all those people and creations that I want more of in my experience. The law of attraction, if you will.
I think this law is widely misunderstood. It is not positive thinking at all. It is all about imagination and the feeling that those fantastical thoughts create within us. I believe the strength and length of those good feelings, extended over a period of time, create a point of attraction with which the people, ideas, experiences, and opportunities that are a perfect fit for us connect and rendezvous. It’s what many call luck but where I believe The Knowing resides. That’s why the vivid art that we create in our fantasies feels so familiar, true, and thrilling.
I’ve been warned off my imagination and beautiful fantasies so many times, yet my life continues to improve when I let it take the lead, in front of the facts, figures, headlines, and certainties that others focus upon. The more time I spend there, the more that the improvements to my life accelerate. The less time I spend there, the more those improvements slow. After years of that evidence in my life, why would I choose otherwise? So, I dream. I fantasize. I imagine a future of my liking… no, of my delight… and my immediate life improves consequently.
At this time of year, we do a lot of visioning work with clients about their future. I’m always struck by how few of them even know how to dream or flush out the details of their greatest desires anymore. We did it all the time as kids, without a moment’s hesitation and without shyness or shame. The older we got, the more the world beat out of us the desire and the ability to fantasize and play with our imagination. And I want it back.
In the last two MMS’s, I passed on some advice from Glennon Doyle and the first two steps that she outlines in her book Untamed about how to regain an authentic and powerful life: Feel it all and Be Still and Know. Continuing my synopsis, step three in her process is Dare to Imagine.
Here are some takeaways from that chapter:
- The language of indoctrination… words like “good” and “should” and “right” and “wrong.” Our minds are polluted by our training. In order to get beyond our training, we need to activate our imaginations.
- Our minds are excuse makers; our imaginations are storytellers. So, instead of asking ourselves what’s right or wrong, we must ask ourselves: What is true and beautiful?
- What is the truest, most beautiful story about your life you can imagine?
- Our native tongue is the language of imagination.
- Perhaps imagination is not where we go to escape reality but where we go to remember it.
- We cannot contort ourselves to fit in to the visible order. We must unleash ourselves and watch the world reorder itself in front of our eyes.
- Discontent is the nagging of the imagination. Discontent is evidence that your imagination has not given up on you. It is still pressing, swelling, trying to get your attention by whispering, “Not this.”
- So how do we get from Not this to This instead? How can we begin to live from our imagination instead of our indoctrination?
- The truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one. We need to let go of the lie that it’s supposed to be.
- Here’s how:
- We honor our own discontent.
- We call upon our imagination to tell the story we were born to tell with our life.
- We put pen to paper.
- We look at what we’ve written and decide that these are not pipe dreams. These are our marching orders. These are the blueprints for our lives, our families, and the world.
- We can make our own normal. We can throw out all the rules and write our own. We can stop asking what the world wants from us and instead ask ourselves what we want for our world. We can stop looking at what’s in front of us long enough to discover what’s inside us.
When I decided that my imaginings and fantasies were not pipe dreams but rather, as Glennon put it, my marching orders, I was free—free to have it any way I want, free to do work that feels good and right for me, free to feel better, free to have some fun and some wild, crazy adventures without trying to justify it to myself or anyone else.
Not all my fantasies come true. That’s not really the point. I just want to feel good right now and then right now and then again right now. I want to be inspired to live out my best life in the future because that feels good, right now. I’m already further down that road than many think I should be. Heck, I’m further down that road than even my own mind thinks I should be!
This week, dare to imagine. Don’t worry about should or shouldn’t. Like Glennon urges, make your own normal. Stop asking what the world wants from you, and start asking what you want for your own world. Stop getting your marching orders from the TV, Internet, or others around you and take them from your imagination. Stop looking at what’s in front of you and start discovering what’s inside you. Paint your life like a gorgeous work of art from within your imagination. Dare to play. Dare to fantasize. Dare to feel good. Dare to imagine the most true and beautiful version of you and your crazy good life.
“When you cease to dream, you cease to live.”
~ Malcolm Forbes