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This is a writeup of a recent article on WikiHow entitled “How To Improve Your Imagination”.

A vivid imagination is more than dreaming up stories about fictional characters. It is the origin of creativity and innovation, expressed in everything from technology and science to arts and literature.  Working on your powers of imagination will help you think outside the box – a useful skill in all walks of life.  Though some people are more naturally imaginative than others, there are ways you can cultivate your creative juices.

Finding Your Imagination
Turn off the TV.
 This is the first step to finding hobbies that enrich your imagination. Watching television programs is a form of passive engagement. It is good for relaxing after a hard day, but not for promoting your imagination. Instead of watching others on TV, pick a hobby that allows you to create your own story.

Try to do nothing
Finding your imagination involves shutting out external stimulation and impulses. Tonight, turn off all music and television and sit for a while. See what comes to your mind.  Try to think of  alternative ways to spend your time. If you find this difficult, try yoga or meditation to help you learn to turn off the world.

Read creative literature and watch creative films
It is important to get out of your comfort zone for the forms of art you interact with.  If you normally read detective thrillers, try reading a fantasy novel instead– or vice versa. The same applies to films. Look for experimental or independent films that challenge typical modes of presentation. Try to branch out not only in the content you interact with, but the way the content is presented.

Listen to music without lyrics
Listening to music while you are working has been shown to increase productivity.  However, listening to lyrics makes you focus subconsciously on the ideas expressed. Let music without lyrics arouse your creativity, and use it as a blank slate for your imagination to write on.

Jazz, classical, blues, and electronic music are mostly instrumental genres.  There are many additional more obscure genres that you can explore that don’t have lyrics.

Write for fun
Beyond the therapeutic benefits of writing for leisure, writing for fun can cultivate your imagination. Journaling is an easy way to begin writing – just writing about your day  (this is an important form of storytelling). From there you can branch out into fictional works that utilize your imagination more extensively.

If you had a normal day, think about a juncture at which it could have gone very differently. Write a story in which you are thrust into a different world, and see it play out on paper.

Make the banal seem beautiful through poetry. Write a poem about something entirely ordinary.

Play improvisational games
Pretend you’re opening a box and pulling out imaginary items.  Act as though the objects are actually there and interact with them. Use expressions and various emotions to really stretch your imagination.

Try playing with a partner by handing them the items or “exchanging gifts” and reacting to what they say.

Try visual art forms
You don’t have to intend to sell your work to enjoy visual art. Take a pottery or quilting class to find out ways you can use your imagination to create physical objects. The most important aspect of this is that you allow yourself a freeform artistic expression.

Learn a musical instrument
Once you have mastered the basics of musical theory, start writing your own music. Improvisational forms of music like jazz are a great way to go because they give you a medium to express your inner voice.  Play your favorite songs on the stereo and accompany them on your musical instrument.

Participate in holiday activities
Without believing that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are real, play along  with these myths.  It’s reflective of an active imagination.   Picking out a costume for a special occasion and decorating it is an easy way to exercise your imagination.


Shaping your Environment
Decorate your home.
Normally, people decorate their homes in a piecemeal fashion, accumulating random articles as needed. If, however, you find your surroundings stale or stagnant, you can take this opportunity to exercise your imagination.  Buy simple or plain furniture and see how it can fit together. Arrange your room in an intentional way that has functionality. This process naturally exercises your imagination and gets your brain working.

Don’t feel like everything has to be ‘tasteful.’   If you choose to do so, you can substitute everyday objects for furniture.  For example, instead of putting your jewelry in a shoe box or jewelry case, buy a cigar box.

Get your house good and messy and then clean it up. The act of reorganizing is a great way to use your imagination and get chores done at the same time. Like redecorating, it requires you to reconsider the functionality and feng shui of your home.

Create a narrative for art or other objects
As they say, if walls could talk, they could tell you a story. Try to imagine that story for yourself. Look at objects or pieces of art around your home and create a narrative for what they mean to you and how they were created.

For example, if you have a painting of a ship, try to imagine the crew of the ship. Where did they come from, who are they? Expand your imagination into the realm of the unreal to come up with a story for the objects in your home.

Plan out your ideal trip
If you could go anywhere in the world or in outer space, where would it be? Why would you go there, and what would you do? Imagining this in your mind is a great way to use your imagination. The more outlandish and fun, the more your imagination was used to create the fantasy.

For an extra imaginative boost, write a story or create a drawing about the trip.  Hang it somewhere you’ll see it daily.

Have stimulating conversations
Invite your friends over.  However, instead of watching TV, discuss something hypothetical.  Exercises like this require you to use your imagination, and you can feed off your friends’ ideas.  Brainstorming ideas and answers to hypothetical questions can be about your choice of topics.

If your friends are into discussing politics, ask them how they think Americans would react to a declaration of war from Congress tomorrow.

Or, for example, how far do you think elephants could carry a simple basket on their back before it fell off?  It may sound silly, but walking yourself through these examples is a way to flex your imagination.

Do something boring
That’s right. Studies have shown that people given dull tasks find ways to make them more creative. For example, start with a basic spaghetti recipe for dinner and see what ingredients you can add to make it more interesting – all this without consulting a cookbook. Tasks like this will force you to use our own creativity and imagination to add spice to your life.

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