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On Despair and the Imagination

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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On Despair and the Imagination

On Despair and the Imagination

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

theschooloflife.com

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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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