Awesome You Be


Cartoon: Imaginativefulness


By Jeffrey Baumgartner

If you have been paying any attention to the world these days, you have doubtless heard about mindfulness which Psychology Today defines as:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindfulness is derived from Buddhism, but has been adopted by Western psychology and is widely used by the growing body of well being coaches around the world. It has also become surprisingly popular among individuals and businesses for its reputed positive effects on well-being.

My Proposal: Imaginativefulness

When it comes to being creative, I would like to propose a related state of mind:imaginativefulness. Imaginativefulness is a state of observing the world around you not only as it is but, more importantly, as it might be as the result of action taken by you, another person, an animal or a mysterious force. Imaginativefulness is the ability to see in your inner mind the multitude of possibilities that your environment presents. These possibilities need not be likely or even realistic. They simply need to be possible within your imagination. Indeed, seeing increasingly fantastic possibilities indicates a higher level of imaginativeness.

Imaginativefulness is very much like being a child at play, in which a box is not a box but a car, a house, a time machine or anything you want it to be; when dolls are not dolls but people who can do anything.

Imaginativeness is a form of creative exercise. It is a state of encouraging your mind to make likely and unlikely connections between things in your environment and information stored away in your mind. By imagining highly unlikely connections, you are being more creative.

Imaginativefulness is a state you should try to attain regularly, whether or not you need to be creative. For example: take a walk and watch the world around you. What do you see? What could you do to the environment you see? What could someone else do? What would an evil person do? How about an angelic person? What would happen if a herd of elephants ran through? Are there people in the environment? What are they doing? What might they do? What would happen if birds began singing Strauss's Blue Danube the people you see started to waltz together? How would that look? What if the people were all strange looking aliens wearing human masks?

Practical Imaginativefulness

Imaginativeness can also be practical. A few weeks ago, some families were coming over for a barbecue in my back garden where there is a swing set. Unfortunately, the seat of one of the swings was broken. I had no time to buy a new swing seat or fashion one out of the spare wood I have stored in one of the garages. So, I looked around my garden, the garages (where I store wood, pipes and other odds and ends left over from house renovation) and the house. All the while, I was looking at various objects and imagining them as potential swings.

Many of the imagined swing substitutes were ridiculous and I quickly rejected them as potential solutions. Soon, I came across some bright red plastic tubing that in my inner mind seemed would fit and look good. So, I cut a piece of it and fitted it to the ropes from which the broken swing had been suspended -- and it worked!
In this example, I was not thinking about how to make a swing, I was looking at objects and imagining them as swings and continued to do so until an item worked in my imagination.

Imaginary Imaginativefulness

Imaginativeness need not be limited to the world around you. You can also use it in remembered environments and even imaginary environments. For example, if you are put in charge of a government sponsored campaign to reduce obesity in your country, you can imagine obese people you know, visualise their behaviours and imagine actions they might take to reduce obesity. Imagine an obese person's day -- perhaps after doing some research to ensure you are not making invalid assumptions. What behaviours might be responsible for the weight problems they have. For instance, in a hot climate, going outside for a walk or a bike ride, might not be an attractive option, so people do not go out and get exercise. Then, imagine what actions obese people and, particularly, children who are in danger of developing bad dietary and exercise habits, might take to encourage healthier eating, more exercise and greater well being.

You can also combine imaginary or remembered situations with the situation around you. If you are struggling for ideas, go for a walk, visit a beautiful location, sit at a table at an outdoor cafe or do something in which you can watch the world around you. While allowing imaginativeness to engulf you in childlike ways, think also about the imaginary situation for which you want ideas. Bring it into the world around you and allow your mind to connect things, play with things, explore things and visualise things.

Imaginativeness As a Regular Mental Exercise

Being able to attain a level of imaginativeness is useful when you need ideas. However, imaginativeness, like many things, improves with practice. Even when you do not need ideas, practice imaginativefulness. It is a way of exercising your creative mind, making the world more interesting and inspiring you even in situations where you were not actively looking to be inspired.

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