Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it. You will be mistaken and disappointed if you buy the book imagining it to be a useful guide to finding happiness. It is not. The author describes the work as “what science has to tell us about how and how well the human brain can imagine its own future, and about how and how well it can predict which of those futures it will most enjoy.”
Okay, we lost a few potential readers with that description, but this post’s purpose is not to suggest you buy the book. It is about another statement in the book I find useful for my clients and me. The statement is this, “The greatest achievement of the human brain is its ability to imagine objects and episodes that do not exist in the realm of the real.” It appears that we are the only species who have imagination, and that unique capacity is the driving force behind most of our creative accomplishments. We simply know how to dream things, situations and moments up, any time of day or night.
As with all gifts, there is both a light and dark side, and what I like to say is, “It is… except when it isn’t.” When it comes to imagination, or more simply said, thinking about the past and future, we all have been slaves to the remunerations of past regrets and future fears—the dark side, so to speak. When our negative imagination is blooming, it can be epidemic, occupying most of our conscious thoughts. It can also lie below the surface waiting for the next opportunity to strike, but either way, it occupies space and carries with it a certain energy load. When your negative imagination is in full bloom having a strategy (or strategies) to both recognize and temper, it is important and most of us do just that. The question I like to ask is, “How?” In other words, how do you (we) deal with runaway negative thinking and rumination? What do you do (specifically)?
The same question seems relevant on the light side of imagination, the kind that provides us with amusement, creative ideas, escape, rehearsal without consequences, a powerful planning tool, etc. How do you (we) turn that on? What do you (we) do?
Having the ability to transport ourselves to anywhere at any time sounds like something from Star Wars, but it is not. We already have the latent potential—or least it seems to me—and like any potential, useful strategies to turn it either off or on, amplify or mute it would be hugely practical.
At Mind Nexus, we identify, practice and master many of those strategies.