How to Use Fantasy to Improve Your Outlook
This post was originally titled, I WON THE LOTTERY. But,I didn’t win the lottery. Not the NY State Lottery, not any lottery actually. I did, however, play the lottery on Friday night.
Growing up, my mom always said that playing the lottery was the cheapest form of high quality entertainment. $1 buys you hours of dreaming, scheming and planning all the life-changing things you’d do with your pending millions. For me, the most enjoyable part is envisioning all the friends I’d surprise (maybe anonymously?) with a generous check. That’s how I spent Friday night - dreaming and scheming. I was so caught up in the fantasy that I was honestly surprised that I didn't win when I checked the number at 11:30 p.m. on Friday night.
Nonetheless, when I woke up on Saturday morning, I began planning my day as if I’d won. On my way to play with a friend’s baby, I planned out the trust I was setting up for her kid. Walking through the city became a spirited adventure. I springed over curbs and climbed subway steps like an antelope.
I didn’t buy anything expensive, and I still did the things I needed to do to prepare for the work week. In other words, I didn’t become delusional. Most importantly, I didn’t think that if I told myself I was a millionaire that I would actually become one. I did however, use the energy of the fantasy to brighten and relax my mind, which made me more generous and flexible through out the day.
There are similar meditation practices in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, although to be fair they are more nuanced and complex. But there’s an easy entree, a way to harness your imagination to lift your mind, making you more resilient and kind.
Meditation: Spend a few minutes connecting to your breath and your body. Then let your mind play: think of all the qualities that you most admire in people. Internal qualities like patience, generosity, etc. Let your mind bounce through them happily, like hopping over river stones. Then pick the three that speak most to you today. Return to your breath and settle into your body. Now imagine that what it would feel like to fully embody those qualities. In your body, what would it feel like to be truly generous, patient, etc.? Explore that. Then imagine one specific relationship in your life; how would that relationship change if you fully embodied these qualities? Explore that, staying connected to your breath and your body. Now recall something that upset you in the past few days. Replay the situation but from the perspective of fully embodying these qualities. Return to your breath and your body, and notice how you feel. Now imagine what it would be like to move through your life as if you already fully embodied these qualities. What kind of changes do you foresee?
What three qualities did you chose? How did you feel imagining that you fully embodied them?
Megan Mook's MNDFL class notes: Oct 5, 2016.