As I have been considering what to write this month in order to address how I handle hard times, two interesting things have happened.
First, a few difficulties of my own have piled up over the past few weeks. From slow summer camp registration, to reality setting in about how long my current revision might take, to unexpected bills, I find myself in a place where I'm not moving where I want to go at the speed I'd like to go. I'm feeling stuck. And while this isn't my favorite place to be, it's a perfect moment to analyze how I handle such situations. As I struggled to put my reaction into words, I realized my entire hard-times strategy relies on imagination. Yes. When things get tough, I imagine how they will be when they are different. It's sounds childish and naive, but this is honestly what I do. I tap into that five year old self that I haven't entirely forgotten, and I play-pretend until what I'm pretending becomes real. I don't allow thoughts of: "What if things don't work out," or "What if everything gets even worse?" I wasn't going to admit that I rely on my imagination this way on the blog, though, because it sounds so ridiculous.
Thus, I was hugely surprised when the second interesting thing happened. In my inbox, I found an article about the imagination and how it actually shapes our reality. Here's the link to the article. Basically, research has shown that when we imagine something, such as tasting a lemon, or even when we read and imagine a dangerous or exciting event happening to a character, our brains react in the same way they do when we actually experience that situation. Further, when we imagine our own lives differently, our brains react as though our lives are different. This reaction changes our whole outlook, bringing positive energy and allowing us to not make desperate, unwise decisions.
So, I decided to admit to you what I thought was my own naivete. It turns out that imagining isn't a ridiculous strategy after all. The best part is, when you imagine your way out of tough times, you create your own shortcut. Even if true improvement is weeks or months away, you start feeling better right away. Not bad, huh?