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On Despair and the Imagination

https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/on-despair-and-the-imagination/

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On Despair and the Imagination
On Despair and the Imagination - Articles from The School of Life, formally The Book of Life, a gathering of the best ideas around wisdom and emotional intelligence.

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Imagination: the power to find alternatives

Imagination: the power to find alternatives

Some of our most despondent moods are caused by failures of the imagination. Imagination here is the power to envision alternatives. When we're sad, we can't imagine finding other work. We can't imagine getting by in a wheelchair. We can't imagine having to make a new set of friends.

With sufficient imagination, we can find possible solutions. If Plan A has failed, we can look to Plan B or C.

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We are people with choices

As grown-ups, we have choices. We are not small children where we have to depend on our parents for everything.

We could work as a bus conductor or retrain as a psychotherapist. We could volunteer in an emergency shelter. We can throw ourselves into learning a new language or take a university degree. We can look up old and trusted friends or make new friends.

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Imagination: a chance of fulfillment

To increase our chances of fulfillment, we need to feed our imagination and provide them with endless examples of alternative narratives, so they are more able to come up with plan Bs. We should practice to picture better ways to be.

As part of creative classes, adolescents should be asked to produce narratives like: If I lost everything and had to start up again, I will... They should be asked to make a list of 20 things that currently make life meaningful, then have to cross them all off and find ten more.

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The true function of imagination

When we are sad, we should be inspired to imagine how else we might get by, now that a door has closed in front of us.+

We should consider this question: How can we rebuild our futures intelligently and creatively?

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Talking horizontally and encouraging honesty

Talking horizontally and encouraging honesty

Sigmund Freud discovered that there is a remarkable difference between what people will tell you when they are sitting up and looking at you in the eye, and what they will say to you when they ...

When we feel discouraged to speak

We perhaps don't realise that seeing another person's face can discourage us from speaking the truth. We may hold back and edit our presentation in the light of their reactions.

With Sigmund Freud's example in mind, we should find our own forms of horizontal conversation. After dinner, we might suggest that we all go and lie down somewhere and become newly conscious of voices and nuances when we don't have to look at others' expressions.

Love is vital in recovering from serious mental illness

Love is vital in recovering from serious mental illness

Love is critical to help us keep faith with life and rescue us from severe mental illness.

In fact, anyone who has ever suffered from mental illness and recovers will do so...

Love is unconditional approval

When we are sick in our minds, we have this punishing sense of how terrible we are, even if we often can't point to a specific crime. We are appalled by, and unforgiving of, who we are.

In this situation, a loving companion can make all the difference. They don't try to persuade us of our worth. They make pleasant conversation about something that won't make us anxious. They can tolerate how ill we are and will stick by us. They love us for who we are rather than what we do.

Love and non-judgment

Patronising pity can make the attention of others oppressive.

Loving companions do not judge us as beneath them. They don't oppress us by clinging to their belief in their own solidity and competence. Our companions indicate that they too might one day be in our place and suffer with and for us.

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A cultural endorsement of love

A cultural endorsement of love

Love is often seen as the exciting feeling we get in the presence of someone with great intelligence of beauty that we hope will reciprocate our interest and whom we badly want to touch and one day...

Love is focused on the other person

  • This type of love is displayed when we come across the itinerant drunk - weather-beaten and ranting - and do not turn away but consider them as a version of ourselves, falling prey to the same passions and getting upset by similar losses and worthy of their own share of compassion.
  • We also show love to the well-dressed person shouting grandly at an airport, filled with self-righteousness, and do not dismiss them as insane or entitled, but as vulnerable beneath the bluster.
  • We show love when we see a small child throwing themselves on the floor, and do not focus on how piercing their screams are, but that their pain is in its general form ours too.
  • It is love too when our partner is sometimes plainly irrational, unfair, and maddening, and we do not direct back a full dose of righteous anger but hold back and wonder how this formerly sane adult should have fallen apart in this manner. It is to hold open the idea that they might not have slept very well, are perhaps panicked by the future, and don't understand how to master it.

Love for the weak

It is no particular accomplishment to love someone who is on their best behavior.

What is needed for our attention is the love of what is crooked, damaged, and self-disgusted. Here love is the effort required to imagine oneself into the life of another person who has not made it easy to admire or like them.