This week, I found the meditation exercise to be interesting and quite a learning experience for me. Also, hearing other people in the class share about what they “envisioned” in their future was interesting to me because some people had the most elaborate descriptions of exactly what they imagined their houses to look like, their workplaces to look like, and exactly what it was they were doing in their everyday lives and their jobs. For some reason, I actually found it difficult to picture what my life was going to look like twenty years into the future. Even though the point of the exercise was to be quiet and only focus on our thoughts about our future, I found myself drawing complete blanks a couple of times in the exercise. After reading about the value of future consciousness and thinking about the future in one of our assigned readings, I realized that the problem is that I am too focused on the past and present and probably don’t focus on details of the future as much as I probably should or could.
I also really took a lot away from “The Wildest Thing” exercise that we did in class in our groups. I thought the whole process of writing down our “wishes”, and from those, generating multiple solutions and possibilities to problems was a really effective way of brainstorming. It became obvious that the goal in one of the steps was to generate as many possible ideas as we could, no matter if they were absolutely ridiculous and far-fetched. Quantity was the focus rather than quality of the ideas. It was also obvious that it was easier to funnel the ideas down into one final idea when you had more crazy and ridiculous ideas to pick from. Also, some of the ideas that at first seemed to be far fetched were some of the ideas that turned into actual possibilities.
I realized a couple of things that hit home to me when reading Steven Johnson’s Looking at the Future through a Cartoonist’s Eyes. The author said that his creative thinking takes place in the visual part of the imagination and that he is “imagining physical things, mostly.” This was relevant to me because I think that is the trouble I had during our meditation exercise. I wasn’t able to get deep enough inside of the visual part of my imagination and imagine physically what my house would look like in the future or what walking into my workplace would look like. However, I did think that “The Wildest Thing” exercise corresponded perfectly with this reading in the way that we were supposed to be using lateral thinking just like Steven Johnson does to come up with his ideas. The author said that often his best ideas are produced when he “intentionally delays the step to narrow down and finalize, so as to choose the “best” option. This is exactly what we were doing in “The Wildest Thing” exercise in class. I found the method of coming up with as many “ludicrous” ideas as possible before pondering on these and then narrowing them down to a final possible solution to be a better way of going about problem solving. I personally liked reading this because it presented a new way of thinking, one that I find to be more interesting and less boring than the traditional way in which people are taught to generate ideas or solve problems.
I also found a couple of points presented in the reading “Thinking Ahead: The Value of Future Consciousness” to be relevant to me. The author talked about having an optimistic mindset vs. a pessimistic one and how they are self-fulfilling prophecies. A lot of people that know me well would describe me as being very optimistic, and I consider this to be one of my strengths. In the most humble way possible, I related to the part in which the author described “winners” as people who acknowledge negative as well as positive possibilities of tomorrow, but that they believe that they have considerable power to determine which possibilities are realized. I actually do believe that to a certain degree, your thoughts define who you are, and what you do. If you have a positive outlook on what is to happen in the future, you have the power to make exactly that happen. I’ve noticed some of my friends who would be considered more pessimistic than optimistic being the victims of this self-fulfilling prophecy before. I’ve actually noticed that if you have such a negative outlook on the future, even if it is something as short-term and trivial as an upcoming test or quiz, you limit yourself on your ability to make yourself do well. It’s almost as if having these negative thoughts weigh you down and make you unable to go forward and succeed at whatever you’re trying to do. When you think optimistically, you can generate goals that you know you are able to achieve, and you feel more empowered to actually go and pursue your goals.