How Your Imagination Can Help You Live Longer
Sitting in a park pagoda, I read a quote from the Yogi tea bag.“Happiness is a choice.” Hmm, I say at first, I guess that’s true.
I stand and continue my morning walk, as the reality of the quote struck me like the sudden rain drops falling.
My thoughts turn to the water on my face. I didn’t see any rain in the forecast… Is this is a sign that I’m on the wrong path in life?
Whoa, mind, slow down…
I circle back to the quote. Hey, I thought. This is a perfect chance to try the quote. I must choose happiness.
Choosing happiness involves a change in perception. It happens when we employ one of the greatest human tools of them all: imagination.
Let’s flip the scene here:
Rain, part of the great cycle of life, falls gently upon the life in a park. I’m now experiencing that cycle viscerally … on my face, my hands, my thoughts. I look at the trees, nourished by the rain. I feel gratitude emanating from their leaves which give me oxygen to breathe.
Okay, this works.
Instead of rain releasing stressful hormones like cortisol, I’m bathed in life-extending endorphins. Taking the reigns of my imagination, I ride into a comedy instead of a tragedy.
This story, also from imagination, illustrates how we can become an active force in the direction of our thoughts. It all boils down to choosing optimism over pessimism.
Mindfulness is required. This simply means we listen to the stories we’re telling ourselves. When you hear your imagination go down some path that isn’t beneficial, immediately change course.
You are the navigator of your imagination.
Optimistic people not only live longer, they enjoy the ride! Many studies have shown that people who look on the bright side live longer, including a study by Berkely showing the most optimistic people survived 10–15 percent longer than the least optimistic.
The key to optimism? Imagination.
Our imagination can often take us to dark places to protect us from possible danger, and it’s good to understand the risks of any endeavor.
But this protection system can run haywire and take us down dark past when it’s doing nothing to protect us, but actually causing harm in the form of anxiety.
All it takes is changing our point of view to become an optimist, to make imagination like a fun friend who tells great stories.