One of the most quoted of the many quotable things Albert Einstein said was: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
The second, less frequently cited part of the statement is actually my favorite: “For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
Imagination is forward leaning. It brings to light what is possible. It weds insight and action to vision.
Imagination isn’t just the province of artists and great minds. Every one of us is blessed with this amazing capacity, this gift of the mind. Through the power of our imaginations we can change our thoughts—and, as the philosopher and psychologist William James said, by changing our thinking we change our lives.
We use our imaginations constantly. Every time we think about something that hasn’t happened yet, we’re using our imaginations. In the morning, when we survey the prospects of our day, our minds roaming through our to-do lists, we’re performing an imaginative, creative act. We’re seeing ourselves as actors in the future through the medium of our imaginations. Thanks to imagination, we don’t have to be who we were or do exactly what we did yesterday. We can change ourselves, and thus the future. So I’m with Einstein on this one. Imagination trumps knowledge.
Imagination differs from fantasy in that it identifies a potential outcome from a plausible reality. It brings to light what is possible. But similar to fantasy, it does turn us into time travelers. Daily life unfolds on a linear timeline: We’re born, we live, we die. In between, we laugh, we love, we grieve, we forgive. We grow. Imagination lets us peer along the timeline to see who we might be down the road. Once we honestly decide to change and summon the willingness to commit to that change, it is absolutely necessary that we envision ourselves changed.
Close your eyes and clear your head of all thoughts. Concentrate your imagination on a single image: You, changed. What you look like. What you sound like. How you act. And of paramount importance, how you feel—strong, confident, grateful, happy. Through every step of your change journey, never let these images escape your thoughts. The more you imagine your change, the more you will become it.
Get more inspiring stories of personal transformation in, The Promise of Hope.