Life Style

How Imagination Helps Patience and How to Improve It

In general, patience is probably not the best strategy for life. But sometimes it’s really worth waiting a little longer to get what you want. Think of the marshmallow test. The child would get one marshmallow at once, but after 15 minutes, he could take two. Often we miss opportunities because we want to take advantage of the here and now. Let’s find out how to help your brain focus on the goal while exercising stamina.

The Power of Imagination

Personal growth coaches unanimously cry out that the clearer you can imagine what awaits you, the easier you can go even through the pain and suffering. For example, it’s hard to sell a gym membership by talking about exhausting schedules and fatigue from the increasing workload. But a picture of a beautiful body on the beach will appeal to many. Or it’s impossible to advertise saying it’s possible to win only with difficult strategies. It’s much easier to promote it by talking about bonuses and jackpots.

There are no miracles, the result is the way, and it involves effort, routine and trying to snap. And the image of the result is what keeps us afloat. The brighter and more prominent it is, the stronger it is. After all, you’re not going to learn French just to get brackets right in grammar exercises. A foreign language means a new job, an environment, the freedom to travel, and even to move. Feeling more energized about it?

The Scientific Rationale

Researchers at the University of California conducted an experiment to prove the effect of imagination on willpower in terms of neurophysiology. They took two groups of volunteers and tracked their fMRI responses. All participants were offered the same thing, but in different formulations:

  • The first to take $100 right away or $120 after 30 days.
  • The second to take $100 immediately and not get any more within 30 days, or none immediately and 120 after 30 days.

In the first group, most took the money instantly; in the second, most chose to wait. In doing so, the latter showed activation of the brain area responsible for imagination, which stimulated the large hemisphere cortex (the reservoir of will in our brains). Both groups received virtually the same inputs, but those with more visualization could refrain from immediate gratification. The scientists concluded that imagination helps our brains become more tolerant.

Train Your Imagination

To make things work, train your imagination. Here are some simple exercises without equipment or training:

  • Epithets and Associations. Choose 5 objects that surround you and write out 20 adjectives or images to each. For example, pen – ballpoint, rare, automatic, blue, gel pen, capillary pen, with cap, gift pen, handy, thin, solid, heavy, heavy, plastic, strong, fragile, broken, rare, cheap, and so on.
  • Reasons. Pick a situation and make a list of the 10 most improbable reasons. For example, your friend was late for a meeting because he was rescuing a kitten from a burning house while his scooter was being evacuated by helicopter.
  • Be attentive. Try to notice objects around you and “build up” images. For example, what does a cloud look like, a crack in the wall, a shadow on the pavement?
  • Dream – imagine that you have an unlimited amount of money or time. Write out what you will do.
  • Listen to music. Try to connect all your senses. What color and flavor is the composition, why? What did the author want to say?
  • Go to a museum. Look at paintings, sculptures and everyday objects and try to speculate. Who created these? Why? What mood was he in? What was the main emotion? Where did it hang, stand, how was it used, and by whom?
  • Write an essay, continuing with “What if.” For example, what if electricity disappeared, people learned to fly, you could change the seasons at will, and so on.
  • Find uses for ordinary things. For example, napkins can be used to make jewelry, paper ships, toys, furniture decor and so on.
  • Find commonalities between incongruent objects. For example, tape and flowers, a book and children’s drawings, “Lego” and a vase.

Do these exercises regularly to train your imagination and, as we found out, to become a little more tolerant.

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