Tiny Wisdom: On What We Imagine

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~Albert Einstein

For the past four weeks, I’ve been spending my off days at Disneyland. My boyfriend said that Walt Disney created something brilliant primarily because it gives the illusion of diverse experiences contained under one umbrella brand.

In addition to exploring a variety of fantasy lands, a Disney guest can also experience the western frontier, New Orleans Square, Hollywood, and the remote jungles of Africa and Asia. He can ride a steam-powered locomotive, a monorail, a double-decker bus, and a horse-drawn streetcar.

One day and $94 later, he feels he’s seen and experienced more life than he’d likely fit in the average year. My boyfriend said he’d read in a research study that people receive the same psychological benefits by visiting Disneyland as they do when they have the actual experiences. Yet it was just an illusion.

What interests me about this is the extent to which we’re willing to imagine—to pretend—instead of actually doing.

When we sit around watching Friends instead of going out to meet new people. Or see a romantic comedy instead of doing something romantic for someone we love. Or watch Eat Pray Love and feel like we’ve experienced something spiritual and transcendent.

Sigmund Freud said, “Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.” The same can be said for imagination if we never translate what we imagine into what we do.

How can you give your imagination legs today?

Photo by michellerocks

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • I love Disneyland, but the last time I was there – you could have chosen from ANY of the experiences, but not ALL of them, because the main activity you engage in there is waiting in line.

    My father would get red-in-the-face spittin’ mad at Disneyland, because it was “too phony.” Everything was too clean, the paint always fresh, flowers always in full bloom, the staff always smiling (Happiest Place on Earth and all that.)

    I think illusions can be a nice, refreshing break from reality, as long as you understand, you can’t really LIVE in Disneyland. The real world contains dirt, and chipped paint, and people who aren’t always smiling, and problems, and that’s where we need to learn to become balanced.

  • crystaltokyo1

    I love this 🙂 After living in Japan for many years and watching the younger generation retreat into a fantasy land of Manga comics, games and online personas I could see this sad shift in feeling compelled to supress emotions and your true self to avoid pain by “living” through an illusion. I hope people will be compelled to get out and have real life experiences (and all the emotions that go with them) because they are so priceless!

  • Someone mentioned that to me the other day–that it’s too fake. One of the things I love about Disneyland is the multi-generational aspect. I rarely see complete families with children and grandparents around where I live, and I love seeing whole families out enjoying their time together.

    In this post, I was using Disneyland as a metaphor for the illusions we often indulge instead of actually creating what we want in life. The real world isn’t as colorful and perfect as Disneyland, but I think we can create a lot of magic if we’re willing to try.

  • Yes this is precisely what I was getting at! Especially with the Internet, it’s increasingly easy to disappear into a fantasy world instead of having real experiences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. =)

  • This is really profound, Lori. It immediately connected me to my old “artist’s dates,” from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” It’s one thing to sit in a room and write and it’s another to get out there and experience the world.

    I live in a beach town on the Washington Coast, and it fascinates me the number of people who live in my town (about 4500 people) and never go look at the ocean. They have their homes decorated all nautical and have seascapes on the walls but they never get on the beach and get sand between their toes and let the wind and sea air muss up their hair.

    I give my imagination legs every time I walk on the beach and when I actually teach my dog a new trick instead of just thinking about her doing them and when I put myself out there and connect with new people instead of seeing myself as connected. So many little ways we can do it … satisfying ways that don’t require buckets of money.

    Thanks to this post, I’m inspired to find more ways than ever. Thanks!

  • Become a child once again. Ask questions and have a lot of ‘what if’s in my mind. That’s all you got to do to power up your imagination.

  • Yeah, similarly, I find my imagination running when I am bathing or on bicycle. Probably because I enjoy the activities too much!

  • Hi Ande,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective! That’s such a perfect example with the water. I’m so glad this post inspired you to find more ways to give your imagination legs. Your enthusiastic comment inspired me to keep doing the same. =)