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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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?

22 comments on “The power of make-believe

  1. Evelyn Lim says:

    Thanks!! I enjoyed this article! You mentioned that you’ve got a collage on your post. It is not appearing from my end. Would you like to check on it?

    I am not quite the conventional mother. I encourage my kids in their pretend play. My purpose is to stimulate their creativity and to get them to use the power of their imagination. I believe that it is important to help them think outside the box. I lacked the same support myself when I was young but would like my kids to grow up believing that they hold the keys to manifesting their own dreams.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Cultivate Positive Money Beliefs By Busting 10 Myths

  2. FupDuckTV says:

    Magic and Make-believe is still very important in my life. I love fiction and coming up with new things. I’m in the process of writing a screenplay which is pretty much “make-believe” that I can share with others.

    As a kid, I used to play make-believe with Star Wars figures and come up with new stories. I still love Star Wars today.

    Good quote, but not ground breaking or life-changing for me.

  3. Liara Covert says:

    Invisible friends are not invisible to everyone. As you point out, human beings have different levels of energy awareness and varying degrees of perception. People will only ever sense what they are willing to accept. May adults are sceptical of magic and do not believe in enchanted creatures and higher beings. Conditioning is in place to block awareness. Deconditioning isalways possible. People always have reasons or justifications for beliefs. To dissolve beliefs is the only way to reveal the underlying truth.

  4. Patricia says:

    Oh how fun….I think this maybe why Halloween has become such a big adult event….we think material goods are the magic toy for us….I have found more magic on my walks in the morning than in any object…and Your exercises are so fun and great suggestions.
    Bravo – yes let’s make a bit of magic!

    Patricias last blog post..Announcing a Writing Contest – With a Financial Incentive!

  5. You’ve hit on a “nerve” for me. I have spent the last decade being way too “logical” and not spending ANY time in the “magical”. I’ve been slowly recognizing the inherent truth in the Tom Robbin’s quote over the past six months. It turns out, I have plenty of what I “need” but very little of what I “want”.

    It appears, I need to revisit the land of Make Believe – if only I can remember how to get there.

    Kathy | Virtual Impaxs last blog post..An Open Letter to a Desperate Business : You’ve officially lost my trust and therefore my business!

  6. Sara says:

    @ Evelyn — Thanks for catching my mistake. I had a collage picture in the post, but it was too large and reducing the size made it difficult to see it. So,I took it out,but forgot about the sentence. It’s fixed now.

    Now, regarding your comment…it sounds like you are a great mom. I’m glad you’re letting your children play and make believe…it is how we stimulate our creativity and I believe it does carry over into our adulthood. Thanks for comment :~)

    @ FupDuckTV — Good for you about the screenplay! What are your plans for it?

    I also love Star Wars. Yoda was my favorite character. I wrote a post and found this really cool site that allowed you translate what you said into Yoda Speak! It was so much fun :~)

  7. Sara says:

    @ Liara — I always wondered about this energy and enchanted creatures. On this thought, my eldest daughter had an imaginary friend, named George. To my daughter, George was totally real. She talked to him, he went places with us. It made it very challenging to go out to dinner as she would insist that we make a place for him. We had to tell her he brought his own food, which she accepted. He disappeared after my youngest was born; my kids are five years apart. I always thought this was kind of magical…whether he was real isn’t the issue; it’s that she was so creative to find her own special friend when she needed him. Thanks for reminding about this :~)

    @ Patricia — I’m glad you liked the exercises…they are fun to do. I think you’re right about Halloween. It is the time when adults get the chance to play make believe again. It’s also fun to see who really gets into it. I liked what you said about finding magic on your walks. I think it’s true that nature provides us with some the best magic there is…I think about the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis or fireflies (one of my favorites!) Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your comments :~)

    @ Kathy — Good for you for realizing this! Give the mind mapping a try; it really is fun and there are really cool computer programs you find online for mind mapping. You get to be creative and logical at the same time. Best of both worlds :~)

  8. Mark says:

    Magic is the stuff of everyday life for me, make believe is simply a way to manifest the reality that one desires.

    Tom Robbins quote is very wise – it says to me that anything you can imagine can become your reality.

    Marks last blog post..There Is Always a Way – Imagine the Possibilities

  9. Sara says:

    @ Mark — So true that “make believe is simply a way to manifest the reality that one desires.” This is what we do when we envision something happening — see it, touch it, feel it and believe it. Thanks for sharing with us :~)

  10. FupDuckTV says:

    I’m toying around with trying to do some low-budget home-written/directed/produced attempts at some internet short series. Still in the early planning phases.

    I enjoy Star Wars so much that I even dress like a Stormtrooper and do charity work in costume. There is a huge group called that does all thing Star Wars. Check them out.

  11. Thanks for this post. I’ve found a form of free writing helpful that’s from the book The Tomorrow Trap by Karen Peterson — it involves writing with the non-dominant hand, which for her is a great way to get in touch with what the child part of you is needing in whatever situation you happen to be in.

  12. Dr. Nicole says:

    I love this article! I think whenever I have “writers block” it really is that I need to do a thorough freestyle writing barfathon. Then I feel much better.

    Dr. Nicoles last blog post..Scientists Urging Obama to End Natural Medicine Research?

  13. This is a very timely post for me. Just today I realized I need to step away from my computer more often to get my creative juices flowing. Your suggestions are now on top of my to do list for this weekend’s creative play time. Thanks!

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Authentic Happiness Series – Part One

  14. Tony Single says:

    I remember playing with lego as a kid, and getting lost in books full of strange, whimsical characters. There were wonderful stories in my head and everywhere I chose to look, and curiosity empowered me to probe the limits of my otherwise mundane world.

    Then you grow older, and the jadedness sets in, which sometimes feels like a kind of slow death. That’s why I read voraciously, listen to music, and create stories. Sure, working helps you to earn money to live, but imagination is what I live for. Imagination helps me to look beyond the cage of circumstance.

    Tony Singles last blog post..An Affair to Forget [Trottersville #115]

  15. The neighbors do look at me funny when I’m out in my cape but I’m sure I’m the one having the most fun on our street!

    I think the freestyle writing is just what I’ll need as my blog post ideas seem to be in a bit of a slow period lately.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Sofa buttocks et al

  16. Sara says:

    @ Jannie — Hey we could all use more of Super Woman right now and I do understand about the advantages of going freestyle when the muse isn’t talking. You get to meet lots of new voices when you go freestyle :~)

  17. Sara says:

    @ FupDuckTV — I just checked out the for my state (Florida) and there are 206 members…cool!

    Don’t you love the Internet? It gives you so many opportunities to try things on and see how they fit. Good luck with your efforts. Let us know if something is ready for viewing :~)

    @ Chris — Thanks for the recommendation. I have tried writing with my non dominate hand, but I can’t read what I write. On the other HAND :~) I know a lot of people who have used this technique to bring out their child! Thanks for sharing with us :~)

    @ Dr. Nicoel — I’m glad you liked the post…we aim to please :~) Also, I visited your site and enjoyed your post about CAM. I mentioned it on Twitter ’cause I think it’s important for people to know what happening to alternative medicine!

    @ Stacey — I bet you would love mind mapping. You can use crayons, pens, markers…it’s so much fun and its amazing the connections you make that you didn’t even think of before. I’m glad you enjoyed the post :~)

    @ Tony — Well, they didn’t have legos when I was kid. I played with lincoln logs, which allowed me to build. However, when my kids got their legos…it was “let of my LEGO, Mom” all the time. I loved them.

    Tony…what clever words you weave, “Imagination helps me to look beyond the cage of circumstance.” These could be pondered for some time. I like them :~)

  18. Arswino says:

    Hi Sara, imagination is necessary indeed, especially when we are dealing with a complex problem. Sometimes, we must be able to see things from a helicopter view.
    Thanks for the tips, Sara.

    Arswinos last blog post..A Glass of Milk

  19. Davina says:

    Hi Sara. This is a good one for me. I’m a huge dreamer and love visualizations. I’ve used all your suggestions in the past. Each one of them is powerful. The power of make-believe to me opens so many doors to fulfillment. It expands your boundaries and creates visions that will surprise even the dreamer. I just wrote about this actually…. we’re definitely on the same wavelength.

    Davinas last blog post..A Vision of Fulfillment

  20. Sara says:

    @ Arswino — You are absolutely RIGHT! As humans, we are lucky that we have imagination and creativity and it is very helpful in solving complex problems or helping you get unstuck with a problem. I love the idea of getting above it all in a helicopter…thanks for sharing this with us :~)

    @ Davina — It’s so nice to have your voice back. I also love visualizations. I agree when we let our mind and imagination play, it is amazing what we can create!

    You know I noticed this “being in sync” phenomena quite a bit. I’ve noticed when I go my Google Reader that many of the posts I read have a similar tone or feel. It’s nice…like the Universe is creating a symphony of words :~)

  21. Mark says:

    This is a great post. As adults we often get the magic beat out of us in the name of logic and facts and in doing so we lose touch with that which falls outside the accepted norm. There is magic all around us if we can only allow ourselves to see it. As far as make believe, who knows, maybe the invisible friends we cannot see are simply because we choose not to or because we have blocked our vision with grown up ideas.

    • Sara says:

      @ Mark — You are so right about the magic being beat out of us because we must conform to logic and facts. Magic does require stepping “outside the box” and seeing what isn’t always visible or understood. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this:~)

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