5 Benefits of Imaginative Thinking - Deepstash
5 Benefits of Imaginative Thinking

5 Benefits of Imaginative Thinking

Curated from: psychologytoday.com

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Imagining possible futures

Imagining possible futures

Imagination frees us from the confines of our immediate reality. Imagining the future enables us to evaluate alternative paths forward, anticipate how we would feel if they happened, and choose which to pursue.

For instance, by simulating a potential event via mental imagery, we can “test out” in the mind potential emotional consequences.


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Counterfactual thinking

Counterfactual thinking (alternative versions of one’s personal past) refers to the comparison of reality to hypothetical alternatives (“what if I had made different choices”).

People create counterfactual alternatives to reality when they imagine how things would have turned out differently. Imagined alternatives may trigger guilt, remorse, and shame. However, thoughts about how things could have turned out differently provide a roadmap for change.


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Distancing from the problem

Imagining events from a distance encourages abstract thinking that boosts creativity. After several years of experience, people start to repeat themselves; it becomes more of the same old approach. They become insiders.

One of the most effective ways of cultivating an outsider perspective is to feel distant from the problems. For example, traveling, getting away from the places we spend most of our time. The distance allows one to view problems in a more imaginative way. Suddenly, the mind is aware of those considerations that were previously ignored, and those facts that should be ignored.


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The vividness effects

Any situation that affects our ability to visualize events and situations may affect our judgments. Visual images are more emotionally salient than words.

We recall emotionally charged events far more than mundane ones. However, this emotional partiality impairs our ability to see the big picture. For example, lawyers have known for a long time that the vividness of the testimony offered by a witness can influence the judgments made by a jury.


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Imagination is central to understanding and interpreting figurative language. Metaphors are figures of speech to convey a truth about the real world. They are transferred from another context to give us new ways to think.

We can imaginatively see a particular perspective on the focus of the metaphor. For example, the phrase, No man is an island, implies that no one is truly self-sufficient.


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The dark side of imagination

Delusions and ordinary cases of self-deception have been characterized as disorders of imagination.

Delusions can be characterized as beliefs that are dysfunctional in their content or formation. That is, a delusion is an imagined interpretation that is mistaken by the subject as a belief.


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How to improve your imagination

Imagination is deeply connected with reality. What we imagine can affect what we believe and vice versa. The richer the personal experience is, the richer the ingredients for imagining.

That is, imagination is nourished by various resources on which the person can draw. Through books, art, discussions with others, and education, we can build our knowledge of events and places that we have never experienced.


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