What is imagination?
Imagination is the ability to form a mental image of something that is not perceived through the five senses. It is the ability of the mind to build mental scenes, objects or events that do not exist, are not present, or have happened in the past. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience.
Everyone possesses a certain degree of imagination ability. The imagination manifests in various degrees in various people. In some, it is highly developed, and in others, it manifests in a weaker form.
Imagination makes it possible to experience a whole world inside the mind. It gives the ability to look at any situation from a different point of view, and to mentally explore the past and the future.
This ability manifests in various forms, one of which is daydreaming. Though too much idle daydreaming may make one impractical, a certain degree daydreaming, while not being engaged in something that requires attention, provides temporary happiness, calmness and relief from stress. Imagination is not limited only to seeing pictures in the mind. It includes all the five senses and the feelings. One can imagine a sound, taste, smell, a physical sensation or a feeling or emotion. For some people it is easier to see mental pictures, others find it easier to imagine a feeling, and some are more comfortable imagining the sensation of one of the five senses. Training of the imagination gives the ability to combine all the senses. A developed and strong imagination does not make you a daydreamer and impractical. On the contrary, it strengthens your creative abilities, and is a great tool for recreating and remodeling your world and life.
The differences between imagination, creativity, and innovation
Like any toolbox, our minds have an assortment of tools available for us to utilize whenever we need to. Included in our mental toolbox are cognitive processes, clusters of which compose of three primary ones involved in ideation: imagination, creativity, and innovative thinking. Unless we know the differences between the tools at our disposal, we may find ourselves attempting to hammer in a nail using a screwdriver. It might get the job done, but it’s definitely not ideal.
imagination is a mental state – something that happens within your mind and may have no output other than the way you perceive the world. It is primarily an internal process, even though you can communicate some elements of your imagination to others there is no requirement to do so in order to exercise your imagination. Its innate, basic human ability to envision in the minds eye what doesn’t exist . Its the ability that allows us to imagine a different future, one better than the present. Logic and reasoning can be used to analyze the results of imagination, but they cannot inspire it.
Creativity always has an output and a major part of creativity is the communication component. A creative pursuit always brings forward something that has never existed before such as a work of art and its role is communicate an idea or an emotion through an act of some sort. Its is the ability to articulate and execute a vision for the future.
what makes us more creative at times and less creative at others?
One answer is psychological distance. According to the construal level theory (CLT) of psychological distance, anything that we do not experience as occurring now, here, and to ourselves falls into the “psychologically distant” category. It’s also possible to induce a state of “psychological distance” simply by changing the way we think about a particular problem, such as attempting to take another person’s perspective, or by thinking of the question as if it were unreal and unlikely. A paper made by Lile Jia and colleagues at Indiana University at Bloomington, scientists have demonstrated that increasing psychological distance so that a problem feels farther away can actually increase creativity.
Why does psychological distance increase creativity? According to CLT, psychological distance affects the way we mentally represent things, so that distant things are represented in a relatively abstract way while psychologically near things seem more concrete.
which demonstrated that distancing in time – projecting an event into the remote future – and assuming an event to be less likely (that is, distancing on the probability dimension) can also enhance creativity. In a series of experiments that examined how temporal distance affects performance on various insight and creativity tasks, participants were first asked to imagine their lives a year later (distant future) or the next day (near future), and then to imagine working on a task on that day in the future. Participants who imagined a distant future day solved more insight problems than participants who imagined a near future day, That’s why creative people Deadlines seem to them to be of relative rather than absolute importance.
Innovation is the improvement of something that is already known. Innovations generally build on something that has existed before but is now conceived in a new way, with the application of new ideas. Innovations are also generally manifested in some way that others can directly or indirectly interact with.Apple didn’t create the first computer, Yet it innovated it in a very unique way that , It revolutionized personal computers, completely changed the way people get music and reinvented the smartphone. That’s why it’s one of the most innovative companies ever existed.
Your Brain on imagination
Our mind can run away with us, leading us to act through suspicion or fear, but we can also use our imagination as a tool to change our life—a process we’re beginning to understand through advances in neuroscience. For centuries, we have envisioned two separate areas of the brain: one that processes the evidence gathered by our senses, and one that spins off into gauzy daydreams. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has helped us understand that these two functions are not as distinct as they seem. Using fMRI scans, researchers like V. S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, Subjects were asked to imagine precise visual figures, to mentally disassemble them, or mentally blend them, showed activity in theoccipital, frontoparietal, posterior parietal, precuneus, and dorsolateral prefrontal regions of the subject’s brains. have found that the same cells in the brain light up whether we perform an action ourselves or watch someone else do it—which might explain why some of us find action movies so exciting. But these “mirror neurons” aren’t activated just by the things we see. The effect also occurs when we simply imagine ourselves performing the action.
Imagination can provide us with rich lifelike experiences and give us a powerful opportunity to develop empathy and compassion. But it can do even more: it can literally reshape and retrain our brains.
For ages, scientists have believed that our neural networks become rigidly set and defined in early childhood, but fMRI scanning now reveals plasticity: the adult brain is surprisingly malleable. If, for example, we go blind in midlife, some of our neurons for processing vision can shift to dealing with sound.
What’s particularly exciting is the discovery that focused mental exercise can alter the brain. For example, scans of some of Tibet’s most advanced lamas found that through years of meditation they had strengthened the centers in the brain that deal with such vital life skills as attention, emotional balance, and compassion.
Thinking Creatively will help you achieve neural growth, As far as the process going on in your brain. Contrary to popular belief, creative thinking does not equal “thinking with the right side of your brain”. It involves recruitment from both halves of your brain, not just the right. Creative cognition involves divergent thinking (a wide range of topics/subjects), making remote associations between ideas, switching back and forth between conventional and unconventional thinking (cognitive flexibility), and generating original, novel ideas that are also appropriate to the activity you are doing. In order to do this well, you need both right and left hemispheres working in conjunction with each other.
Why are the first three years so crucial for learning?
Research by neuroscientists Shonkoff and Philipps demonstrates that high quality social and cultural experiences are more critical in the early years for the development of healthy brains and well-rounded personalities than at any other time during the rest of childhood and adulthood. These critical experiences include imaginative, creative and cultural opportunities which can help children to build contexts, make meaning and deepen their understanding.
synaptic connections holds the key to our personalities – it is what makes us uniquely who we are, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, in the same way that DNA makes us uniquely who we are genetically. In short, a healthy and creative environment in the first three years of life, coupled with strong attachment to their significant carers, leads to the development of well-rounded human beings. We don’t know many people who would argue against that!
creative experiences, for whatever reason (entitlement, economics, cultural, societal), the synapses that are predisposed to imagination, auditory, linguistic, physical or creative thinking skills will be pruned, making it difficult to reconnect those synapses further down the line.
This image from the Child Trauma Academy led by Bruce D Perry, MD, PhD, is frequently used to demonstrate the physical impacts of neglect on a child’s brain. The CT scan of the brain on the right is that of a three year old who has grown up in a Romanian orphanage and has been denied the natural sensory experiences of the healthy three year old child on the left, although we don’t have access to the actual case details of these two children. It is considered a strong demonstration of extreme shrinkage due to the harsh pruning activity that has taken place as a result of the lack of stimulating experiences. However, it is also possible that the skull on the right has not formed to the same size as the skull on the left possibly because of malnutrition.
Whatever the story behind these two children’s brains, the fact remains that we owe it to our children to facilitate their best possible experiences of love and learning from the minute we are aware of their gestation in the womb.
The Dark Side of Imagination
The world as experienced is an interpretation of data arriving from the senses; as such, it is perceived as real by contrast to most thoughts and imaginings. Users of hallucinogenic drugs are said to have a heightened imagination. This difference is only one of degree and can be altered by several historic causes, namely changes to brain chemistry, hypnosis or other altered states of consciousness, meditation, many hallucinogenic drugs, and electricity applied directly to specific parts of the brain. The difference between imagined and perceived reality can be proven by psychosis.
With the power to alter perceptions, distort visual judgments, sensations, moods, and feeling, it’s no surprise LSD is the most commonly used hallucinogenic in the world. It’s often experimented with in teenage years, but what are its effects on the mind and body during a trip and long after its potency wears off?
Researchers say they still don’t know exactly how the hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD work in the brain. After UK researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the live brain activity of 30 hallucinogen users, they found the brain regions that are responsible for constraining consciousness are turned off, giving birth to a free flow of thought. What they do know is that the increase in brain activity, which causes the overactive imagination that many users report, is caused by the serotonin receptors, the brain’s key chemical messengers.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, is a psychedelic, hallucinogenic drug that was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann. After accidentally absorbing a small amount of the drug through his fingertips, Hofmann became the first of many humans to experience its impressive mood-changing abilities.
Hofmann experienced a bad trip once while experimenting with his lab-born concoction. April 19, 1943 would be known as “Bicycle Day,” “A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will,” Hofmann wrote.
The danger of Drugs altering perception that it can affect the brain on the long term usage, So choose wisely, Do you want to live a daydream like Hoffman did, Haunted by demons, The choice is yours to make.
Also Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
Some of its long term effects:
Long-lasting brain damage affecting thought and memory
Damage to portions of the brain that regulate critical functions such as learning, sleep and emotion.
Color Psychology and Creativity
A new study reconciles a debate that has long raged among marketers and psychologists: What color most improves brain performance and receptivity to advertising, red or blue? It turns out they both can, it just depends on the nature of the task or message. The study, which could have major implications for advertising and interior design, finds that red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively.
Previous research linked blue and red to enhanced cognitive performance, but disagreed on which provides the greatest boost,” says Juliet Zhu of UBC’s Sauder School of Business, author of the study
“It really depends on the nature of the task.” Between 2007 and 2008, the researchers tracked more than 600 participants’ performance on six cognitive tasks that required either detail-orientation or creativity. Most experiments were conducted on computers, with a screen that was red, blue or white. “Thanks to stop signs, emergency vehicles and teachers’ red pens, we associate red with danger, mistakes and caution,” says Zhu, whose previous research has looked at the impact of ceiling height on consumer choices. “The avoidance motivation, or heightened state, that red activates makes us vigilant and thus helps us perform tasks where careful attention is required to produce a right or wrong answer.”
Conversely, blue encourages us to think outside the box and be creative, says Zhu, noting that the majority of participants believed incorrectly that blue would enhance their performance on all cognitive tasks. “Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility,” says Zhu, who conducted the research with UBC PhD candidate Ravi Mehta. “The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory. Not surprisingly it is people’s favourite colour.”
Reading Leads to Better Concentration and Imagination
We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we’re surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, links, status updates, ads, and all sorts of other information that we can’t possibly process and digest. It can be an overwhelming situation, but there is a simple solution. Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Pick up a book. Concentrate. Television is passive and noisy. Books require active engagement and concentration — they completely absorb your mind. It takes effort to read words, figure out what they mean, and why they were written that way. While you read you’re building images, thoughts, and opinions in your head. You’re using critical thinking and logic to process this information, to understand the concepts and ideas being passed to you by the author. And again, the more you train your brain to concentrate, the easier it becomes. Reading leads to better concentration and better concentration leads to clear thinking.
The more we read, the more enlightened we become. Gaining knowledge empowers our minds and broadens its range.
Reading broadens our imagination by stimulating the right side of our brain. It literally opens our minds to new possibilities and new ideas helping us experience and analyze the world through others’ lives.
Neuroscientists at Emory University discovered that reading fiction can improve brain function on a variety of levels. They found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s imagination in a way that is similar to muscle memory in sports.
Imagination and science
Society is looking at creative ideas with increased appreciation. Ideas, in this new emerging marketplace (appropriately labeled the “creative economy”), are rapidly becoming viewed as extremely valuable commodities. More than ever before, the world relies on human creativity to solve the many problems we have created, combat the threats of nature, refine elements of function and style, and simply make life more enjoyable. For this reason, I thought it fitting to discuss the source of ideas… imagination.
Albert Einstein makes a perfect subject for this topic. He is considered one of the most influential individuals in the history of our world. His impact on humanity has been made possible not by way of natural intelligence, but instead, his freedom of mind, his questioning, his enigmatic experiments, and his boundless creativity—all derivatives of, not surprisingly… imagination.
Like many people, I enjoy learning about his countless ideas birthed outside the confines of convention. Recently, I read a quote of his that resonated with me:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Einstein’s words are not intended to disregard history or academics, but rather demonstrate that knowledge is actually the result of imagination. If discovery precedes knowingness, then it’s often our curiosity and imagination that initiates the studies which reveal the very information and data we come to call “knowledge.” Consequently, imagination is the beginning of creation.
Is Imagination More Important Than Knowledge?
“I think imagination DRIVES knowledge acquisition. If you are really passionate about a possibility you imagine (whether it’s a better education system or a revolutionary scientific theory), you will seek out the knowledge needed to test it or to turn your vision to reality.” (Ayesha Ratnayake)
“Creativity is the product of imagination. So, both of them need knowledge to work and grow up together. Knowledge is static and creativity is changing, change is needed for new things to happen but to have change there must first be something to change; knowledge.” (Thomas Z.)
“Both are necessary. Imagination drives inquiry and inquiry eventually leads to knowledge. With additional knowledge new levels of imagination become possible.” (Harald Jezek)
Without imagination we embark on a dangerous course of stagnation because knowledge in isolation only reproduces past results (a rut many “knowledge-workers” fall victim of). Repetition is certainly useful to a degree, but action without innovation eventually becomes frivolous and unfulfilling.
Talent or curiosity?
At some point, most of us ask, “Isn’t imagination an inborn quality that some have and others don’t?” But even Einstein himself has admitted his creative work was not merely the result of god-given intellect. He is noted saying, “I have no special abilities; I am only passionately curious.” His use of curiosity inspired his imagination to develop ideas that have pioneered unprecedented breakthroughs in the field of science, psychology, and beyond.
Einstein would likely agree that one of the greatest aspects about human imagination is that it enables us to see things not as they are now, but as they can be. Put simply, imagination creates possibility. It takes those who have questioned conventional dogma to go beyond what was “logical” or “rational” to accomplish remarkable feats… and that process begins with imagination—a new vision about what “can be.”
Creative rebirth in Art
Despite our views and opinions of ourselves, we are all born with the makings necessary to be creative and original. Reflecting on his own life as one of the greatest Maverick artists in history, Pablo Picasso made a powerful observation. “All children are born artists,” he said. “The challenge is remaining one as we grow older.”
All children have the ability to imagine things whether it’s an imaginary friend or drawing a simple beautiful drawing, When one grow up He or She must not restrain this Imagination but invigorate it.
“Adults tend to suppress their imagination, and are too quick to give up their dreams. Don’t let the child in you disappear – imagine, dream, and believe in yourself.” – Byron Pulsifer
Beethoven imagined the music he composed in his head.
By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.
Michaelangelo said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
So he imagined the sculpture in his mind first then using his creativity he executed the scheme of his statues, Art is all about imagining something that doesn’t exist in real life then using creativity to make it a reality
Lucid dreaming and Imagination
Imagination is more of a cinematic view. From my experience you can only imagine a canvas type vision to start with and end up with a three dimensional experience and maybe more. Lots of practise to go. You are creating a vision logically and seeing it.
Lucid dreaming on the other hand is where you are IMMERSED in a reality. It is almost real to the point that with a bit of awareness you realize that you are in a dream. From my experience you can interact within it and enjoy the experience but when you consciously try to change things in there rapidly you snap out of the dream. Not to mention in lucid dreams all your senses perceive the environment. Ex. aroma, temperature, wind, sounds and tastes are vividly experienced unlike PLAIN imagination. Even though the term “lucid” means clear, lucid dreaming is more than just having a clear dream. To have a lucid dream you must know that it’s a dream while you’re dreaming. That’s it. It doesn’t require that you can control anything in your dream, though control is what beginning lucid dreamers often aim at. People get attracted to lucid dreaming because they want to be able to do things they could never do in waking reality, for example, taste fire or fly to the sun. More and more experienced lucid dreamers are realizing the benefits of lucid dreaming. You can use it to explore the boundaries of your own agency and the limits of the universe.
The first brain-ache blockbuster” Inception and Life itself”
Speaking to the LA Times in 2010, Nolan described Inception in the sense that the reality which we see around us may not be entirely real. Where Inception also seems to differ is that its characters are fully aware of the nature of their surroundings
“You can look around and examine the details and pick up a handful of sand on the beach. I never particularly found a limit to that; that is to say, that while in that state your brain can fill in all that reality.
I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have. Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.”
to assume without proof or evidence that one is not dreaming and the world is real. Such leaps of faith are common in Inception, and the phrase is used many times. Cobb, for example, takes a leap of faith when he believes that Satio can deliver on his promise to have the charges against Cobb dropped. But leaps of faith can’t always be good-after all, Mal took one right out of a window.
There is a philosophical debate whether the life we are living is a dream itself and the world is a mere illusion, In my opinion based on my religious beliefs, I think that Life is a dream and we will wake up in the hereafter, Such theory I used as a self-defense mechanism against hardships, Because if let’s say you had a nightmare , Do you let it ruin your entire life or just let it go ? I don’t mean to ignore the problems but not to make it affect our happiness.
We have seen in this research the importance of imagination and how it affects our life, One should not suppress it by look for ways to strengthen it, As it is vital in creating mesmerizing innovations and utilizing it using our creativity,Use your imagination to create your reality not to escape it , As the world is a canvas to your imagination, There are absolutely no limits to your imagination, So dream big and come up with a practical and applicable scheme of how you want to achieve it,
Live this life as a vivid Daydream unbothered by nightmares
– Hardships- where you visulaize your life in a beautiful way awaiting to be awakened!