Albert Einstein once wrote, “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.”
As I watch the incredible development of my little ones and reminisce about all the mischief I got into as a youngster, it causes me to wonder where our imaginations went. Somewhere between 4 and 14 we are talked out of a land filled with endless possibilities and talked into a land of restraint, compliance and normality. Not that being orderly is wrong, but a life sentenced to “ordinary” can be mind-numbing. Mankind was created for something much greater than carving out a meager existence.
What happened to the days before technology? The days when we could entertain ourselves by going outside with one of our mother’s towels wrapped around our necks and for hours we engaged in the battle of the Super Friends. Where a stick was King Arthur’s sword or a water pistol made us the Lone Ranger. We didn’t need a text, Facebook or a Twitter account because our day was filled with playing tag. We felt carefree when we allowed our minds to run free with the moment. But something happened. Life became complicated. We matured and decided with the assistance of society that “playing around” was simply kid’s stuff.
The truth is, we still have that desire to put on our cape or grab a cowboy hat and flee outside to meet with our friends. But between bills, pressures, status quo and deadlines, we shrug off the notion and bury our heads back in our laptops until we fall asleep. But what if this was never the way it was meant to be? Have you noticed the people we celebrate as innovative or successful seem to almost do it in a playful way? They tapped into a part of themselves that found passion and joy in their so-called work. While others dread another day, they bounce out of bed with vibrancy that makes us jealous. These are the adults who found the secret to it all – their imagination. They aren’t working as much as they are playing make-believe. And the world is their playground.
Here are some benefits of playing make-believe as an adult:
1. There is an element of fun in all they do. When you see someone who is engaged in their imagination, they are able to flow through a task with a smile on their face. Unlike others, they even see challenges as an opportunity to learn something new.
2. It seems very little gets you upset or off-center when you play. When we were kids, hardly anything could spoil our fun. If something broke, we would make something else. If we didn’t have all the pieces to the game, we would make up new rules. Today, get back in touch with the part of you that just felt happy to have this moment, and enjoy it.
3. With imagination, everyone is a potential playmate. Have you ever watched kids play? Things like stereotypes, judgments and biases are not in their makeup. These entire hangups are taught to us as we grow. But those who are in touch with their imagination see everything and everyone in a different light. As kids we just wanted to play, no matter who it was.
I know we can’t abandon our jobs and family responsibilities to hang out all day in a club house. There are things we must take care of as we work to support and provide the best for our loved ones. But what we can do is take moments out of every day to engage in proactive imagination where we give ourselves permission to dream big, fly high and reach mountain tops. What could happen if we launch our minds higher than the dull noise level we currently operate in? Imagination will give our hopes new meaning and release us to conquer the world.