The power of make-believe


It’s not unusual for children to have invisible friends or to believe their teddy bears can talk. I think their ability to suspend reality and play make-believe is a wonderful gift.

Studies have shown that children know the difference between make-believe friends and reality, but they choose to travel between the two worlds. I envy this ability. It’s a bit like magic.

Magic is for all ages

We’re fascinated by magicians and their magic tricks. Think about David Copperfield and Criss Angel, or the magician we hire for our kid’s birthday party. Whether an elephant disappears or a flower becomes a white rabbit, we know the magician is doing a trick. Even as adults, we still feel that sense of awe and joy from imagining what we see is real, and not make-believe.

Unfortunately, most adults think this is just for kids. They grow up and imagination gives way to logic. I think this is sad. As adults, we need to use our imagination more often and watch how kids traverse between the real and the pretend when they play make-believe.

Exercise your imagination

I’m not advocating that we should create invisible friends or run around our neighborhood pretending to be Superman. But I do believe we can benefit from the creativity and the magical thrill of make-believe. I think this helps us exercise our imagination and create things we didn’t think were possible.

Need some ideas? Here are some ways you can exercise your imagination.

Mind Mapping – This is a great way to combine creativity and imagination. A mind map is a diagram using a non-linear, intuitive approach to problem-solving, decision-making and brainstorming. Give it try. It can be a lot of fun. If you want more information, check out my post about mind mapping.

Freestyle Writing – Write whatever comes to mind, without censoring or editing it. This is useful when you have writer’s block or are trying to solve a problem. The key is to be spontaneous and creative, giving your imagination free rein. I had a friend who made word circles when she was stuck on something. While the words only had meaning for her, to me they were works of art.

Create a Collage – Use your imagination and create a collage. Any combination of mediums will do, including pictures from magazines, drawings, pieces of fabric and photographs. The idea is to imagine something and then use the collage to bring it into reality.

These are just a few ideas you can try, or maybe you have some of your own. Use your imagination and step into the world of make-believe and magic. Who knows, maybe you could actually make one of your dreams come true.

“Logic only gives a man what he needs; magic gives him what he wants.” Tom Robbins

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What does magic or make-believe mean to you today?

What’s one of your favorite memories from playing make-believe?

What does the Tom Robbins’ quote mean to you?