November 8, 2016

Shazza Ali, research student (PhD) at the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, at the University of Kent, ponders on what imagination means to her…

Imagine if I’d left five minutes earlier or five minutes later…

Imagine if I’d taken a different bus or a different route…

Imagine if I hadn’t made that decision…

Imagine what would have happened, what could have happened or what should have happened…

Thoughts like these run through my mind all the time. I’m constantly thinking about things, and in turn, imagining things. To think is slightly different than to imagine – whereas thought is based on logic, imagination has no limits or rules. To imagine is to envisage something that does not necessarily exist, and may not ever exist, outside of our own minds. In a way, when we imagine, ideas are born.

It seems that my imagination often takes me to a kind of hypothetical realm, filled with could be’s and couldn’t be’s. I frequently find myself re-playing past scenarios in my head and speculating about how the scene could have evolved or ended differently. Although I re-play scenarios that are both positive and negative, my imagination gives more attention to those scenarios that I believe could have panned out in a more positive way.

Although it’s good practice to reflect on past experiences, imagination is a powerful tool that can be used to influence the present and the future. Everything that we imagine stems from something that we’ve experienced in some way or another. If we have the capacity to imagine something, then we must have some belief, however slight, that it can be.  If we believe that the ideas that we create in our minds can potentially exist outside of our minds, then we can attempt to materialise these concepts by extracting and incorporating them into our lives.

People often think about imagination as something quite abstract, however, imagination can refer to much more than this. Imagination is linked to memory and experience. Our imagination is fuelled by what we already know, therefore, I don’t believe that you can have a good or bad imagination. However, you can imagine both positive and negative things. Imagination is to see things not as they are, but as how they could be.

So, if you can imagine something that could benefit yourself and others, such as a change in lifestyle, a neighbourhood project or even something that could be applied world-wide, why not take a step towards the change. Why not act on our thoughts, share our imagined ideas with others and try to make them come to life?

Use of the imagination is an advanced human faculty. Build knowledge and remain curious – the possibilities are endless.

  1. Great blog post! You took something so abstract and normalised it! Its a shame that a lot of us lose our imagination as we grow older when imagination is the very building block for change and revolution. Thanks for this 🙂

    Aisha

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