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Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination

Almost every self help book you read will say something along the lines of "If you can see it, you can be it!"
They tell you about the importance of imagining the end result of your hard work to motivate you to make it happen.
But what if they're all wrong!

As I’ve said before, the brain does not know the difference between fact and fiction.
If you think about something happening then your brain will fire of neurons as if it’s happening for real. Now, this can be a good thing and it can also be a pain in the backside.

If you think about taking the dog for a walk with a cheery smile on your face, then, more than likely, thats what will happen.
Think about dropping your pint on the way back from the bar and, guess what? It’ll probably happen.

So it makes sense to spend more time thinking about all the things that you want to see happen rather than all the things you don’t……doesn’t it?

Well, may be not always.

What if you want to lose some weight, you want to be fitter and healthier.
Imagining being slimmer won’t make it happen and there is no research that shows that it even motivates you to do anything about your current weight. As for the phrase "If you can see it, you can be it!" I agree that when it comes to making changes in life every decision you make starts in your mind.

But ONLY day-dreaming about it?
In fact what people often find is that the excitement of thinking about your end result can actually prevent people from getting started.

An example of this in action was in a study at the University of California.
A group of students were asked to spend a few minutes each day visualising themselves getting a high mark on an important exam that would take place in a few days’ time.
It was quite hypnotic really, they were asked to ‘form a clear image in their mind’s eye and imagine how great it would feel to get a high mark’.

They were also asked to make a note of the number of hours they studied each day, and their final marks were compared to a control group of students, who just carried on as usual and were not asked to visualise anything.

Even though the daydreaming exercise lasted only a few minutes, it had a significant impact on the students’ behaviour, causing them to study less and then get lower marks in the exam.
The exercise may have made them feel better about themselves, but it did not actually help them achieve their goals.

Same thing happened when asking students to imagine their perfect career, they didn’t work so hard at their exams, didn’t apply for as many jobs and long term ended up with lower exam grades and lower salaries.

When it comes to using your imagination to encourage you it’s obvious that just imagining the result is much easier than actually making it happen.

It’s much easier to dream your life than to live your dream. So it’s important to always focus on the steps in-between, not just the end result.

If you want to lose weight think about how you’ll do it, think about the exercises that you’ll be doing, the leaving of food on your plate, the healthier choices.

If you want a great career, think about the phone calls you’ll be making, the work you’re going to put into it and the excitement that doing THAT will create, not just the excitement of already having the job.

That’s how much of an effect our daydreams have on our lives so use them to your advantage.
Also, don’t make an enemy of your imagination either.
Positive thinking may not be the key to getting the life you want but neither is negative thinking!

Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change