Successful business professionals and athletes do it before they perform. Musicians do it before heading onstage. Students do it before taking exams. Just as you map out a road trip prior to leaving, you may envisage in your mind how you wish an event to unfold, forming a mental picture of your desired outcome. Results prove visualization is a remarkably effective tool for success—perhaps better than worrying your body into an ulcer.
Extensive research reveals the brain cannot differentiate between imagining and doing. Therefore, anyone can practice creating new neural pathways in his or her brain through meditation and visualization, prompting change in the world. Why waste brain power imagining the worst? Your choice to anticipate something you want in the future instead of dreading something you don’t want manifests far better outcomes. And in this world, the only thing we can control is what goes on in our own minds.
While reciting positive affirmations to ourselves may seem silly, there is no arguing with the positive effects words have on our belief systems. Stating something in the present tense, like “I am an Olympic medal winner,” or “I am going to ace this test,” creates positive emotions and an improved attitude about what is possible.
Collecting old magazines and newspapers, along with a glue stick, tape, and scissors, and proceeding to plaster a blank scrap book with your hopes and dreams, is another effective visualization technique. Think of this as multi-tasking—collaging and de-cluttering!
Take your artistic skills one step further and paste magazine clippings of things you want to achieve with a photo of yourself in the picture. Insert motivational quotes and words that match your values. A collage of your ideals is an excellent touchstone to refer to when the going gets tough. You are more likely to stick to your goals when you have a constant visual reminder.
Writing down your thoughts and ideas is a powerful self-discovery tool. Writing also empowers you to depict problems and solutions more clearly. You may want to write down daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals, possible obstacles, and how to overcome them.
Writing down goals further solidifies a commitment to action. The general rule to follow is to make them SMART: Significant, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time sensitive. When you have clear actions and deadlines, you’re likely to feel motivated to achieve them.
The power of prayer isn’t just for religiously inclined people. Praying is like having an intimate conversation with your best friend, one who truly cares about your well-being. Prayer is a kind of affirmation of what you value and want in your life. It can also be an imagined conversation with a higher power. However you look at it, prayer has brought a lot of good into people’s lives, as well as comfort and mental clarity.
Our minds are at their most powerful when we’re calm. Setting aside daily quiet time to sit, close our eyes, and focus on what we want more of in our lives has powerful health benefits. You can picture the places you want to travel, how you wish to affect change, and degrees you want to achieve.
There is an abundance of guided visualization meditations online to suit everyone. The more you practice, the more you’ll discover what matters most in your life.
Clearly, there is more than one way to visualize and you can decide which method works best for you. Picturing your ideals accomplished is a worthwhile use of your brain, adding motivational fuel to your fire. I have manifested all sorts of material items and events in my life through the practice of visualization—a new vehicle, concert tickets, trips, new friendships, items on sale, a wonderful dog, increased energy, a home by the ocean, and so much more.
A helpful book is the ever-popular Shakti Gawain’s ‘Creative Visualization’ (http://shaktigawain.com/). I’ve had to replace my old one since it was falling apart from use.
Consequently, positive emotions improve the effects of visualization. If you feel jealousy or anger, it can be indicative of an action you failed to take. Conversely, if you feel excitement and motivation, you’re likely to take further steps to ensure success. Pickling in negative emotions is a recipe for misery and also causes everyone to avoid you like the plague.
Photographer Ansel Adams sums it well: “In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.”
The ideal time to practice visualization is either first thing in the morning or at day’s end, when you’re most relaxed. When you dream a better future, you’ve already created a new reality, like so many successful visionaries. Followed with action, a different outcome in the future is guaranteed. Even when something doesn’t occur the way you planned, sometimes it brings about pleasant surprises.
Expand beyond your day-to-day experience and picture the type of world you wish to see. Peace, nature thriving, countries living in harmony—we could all use more of that in the world.