What does it take to free the mind and allow oneself to imagine?
We are the only species capable of envisioning the world other than the way it is. This also makes us the only beings that spend so much time wishing things were different, instead of simply accepting them as they are.
Of course, there is wisdom in both approaches. Where does the switch happen? When does “it-is-what-it-is” turn into “why-couldn’t-things-be-different?”
What releases creativity and allows it to take flight? What makes us invent better mousetraps, build a huge business on a novel idea, improve the lives of millions, or undertake perhaps the most creative step of all, namely, changing the way we perceive the world?
Right now, I see two main possibilities. The first lies in discovering and then striving to unlearn the restrictive patterns of thinking that have been drilled into us. I was a different person as a child, before I was coaxed and cajoled into acting grown up. If I could shed some of those constraints, it might refresh my ability to imagine. As Gloria Steinem put it, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
The second possibility, I suspect, lies in developing greater courage to believe in myself, and then gradually adjusting my life so there’s room to be authentic. Where did the doubts creep in along the way? The wonderfully creative Steve Jobs had encouraging words for those who harbor self-doubt:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life . . . Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
What has your experience been? I'd enjoy hearing from you. Please don't hesitate to comment.