What is the meaning of an imagination

Fire up the imagination: 5 methods + 8 psychology tips

Imagination is the eye of the soul. Or as Jonathan Swift once put it: "Imagination is the gift of seeing invisible things." It is the driving force behind new ideas and innovations, the engine of all creativity. With the help of imagination, we can increase our motivation as well as our possibilities. Provided that the imaginatively inspired thoughts become reality.

But that is the problem of the imagination: Too much realism is poison for them, nips them in the bud, locks them in the narrow cell of what is currently feasible. “Impossible!” Shouts the realist and reviles the visionary as “fantasist”. Hasty! We need more imagination. All over. After all, it not only plays an important role in flashes of inspiration, but even in choosing a career. How you can use simple methods to inspire and encourage your imagination ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is fantasy?

Fantasy describes the ability to linguistically and mentally create a new world full of unusual images and scenarios - both in the future and in the past. In fantasy neither the laws of nature nor the rules of logic apply. There are no limits. Everything is possible and allowed. The term itself (English "fantasy" or "imagination") comes from the ancient Greek "phantasía" and means something like "imagination" or "dream face". Accordingly, it is also translated as “imagination”. Further synonyms are: Intuition, imagination, ingenuity, feverish dream, imagination, daydream, dream image, illusion, imagination, imagination, pipe dream.

Imagination is a quality presumably only human beings are capable of. Traveling in these fantasy worlds can entertain, relax and make us happy. This is why entire genres have emerged in literature: fantasy stories or science fiction novels. However, the more these fantastic stories or ideas become reality, the more positively the imagination of these people is rated. This is also the difference between a “fantasist” and a “visionary”: the latter tries to implement his fantasies and visions.

Even those who do not succeed in doing this during their lifetime can still inspire many generations afterwards. The best examples of this are Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne: Da Vinci dreamed of aircraft such as helicopters long before they were realized. The same applies to Jules Verne in the 19th century: While others were still dreaming of steam-powered machines in candlelight, Verne describes the possibilities of electricity with remarkable precision and creates images of airplanes, spaceships and submarines - long before they are developed. Later designers even refer to his descriptions as important inspiration.

Notation: Fanstasy or Fantasy?

“Fantasy” or “Fantasy” - when it comes to the correct spelling, opinions still differ. According to the Duden, both spellings are correct today. Until the spelling reform in 1996, the term “Fantasy” was spelled “Phantasie”, ie with “Ph”. Just as many other words of Greek origin contain "Ph" to this day, such as "philosophy". In the case of “phantasy”, however, there is now a modernized spelling and a juxtaposition of different (valid) spellings. For the sake of consistency, we write “Fantasy” here in the article. Analogous to this “fantastic”, “fantastic”, “fantasize” or “imaginative”.

Fantasy Psychology: Advantages & Benefits

In psychology - more precisely: in neuroscience - the imagination is still relatively unexplored. It is known that during imaginative thoughts the memory of the brain is active, while the area of ​​the frontal lobe remains calm. This makes it possible to recombine information. That makes the imagination the engine for progress and innovation. While we indulge in thoughts and let them run free, we come up with completely new thoughts. “Fantastic ideas” that don't necessarily have to be unrealistic. They're just new, different, unusual.

According to the psychological interpretation, fantasy fulfills several functions at the same time: It primarily serves to process and perceive reality. With the help of imagination, even unpleasant experiences or strokes of fate can be overcome or the battered self-esteem can be raised. A positive quality of the imagination. At the same time, however, it can turn into a negative, if people, for example, use their imagination to get into something. The effects of this extreme form can be observed, for example, in rampages. But the positive aspects outweigh this. And depending on its characteristics, imagination has many advantages that can help you further in your private and professional life. For example:

  • Imagination increases creativity
    Whether in art or music: Imagination inspires. Just think of crazy music videos or the costumes in them. The performances of bands like Kiss and Daft Punk or solo artists like Madonna and Lady Gaga are legendary. All of these artistic forms of creativity - works of art, pieces of music, installations, literature - are ultimately based on fantasy.
  • Imagination favors empathy
    If you have imagination, it is easier to change perspective. It is easier for someone like that to empathize with others, even if one has never experienced the same situation. Fantasy thus enables empathy. This is just as useful in conflicts as it helps to anticipate customer needs.
  • Imagination enables stress relief
    Relaxed imagination. Switch off, calm down, watch the thoughts become transfigured ... all of this relieves stress. When we wander mentally, build castles in the air or even act out thirst for revenge in the dream worlds, the imagination serves as an important valve to relieve pressure or to live out desires. These breaks and daydreams briefly relieve the pressure to perform, give us space to react and make us all the more productive afterwards.
  • Imagination promotes innovation
    Imagination not only promotes and inspires the show industry or the art business. Sometimes it also leads to very practical solutions and new products or services. For example, by observing and picking up trends and developing new solutions for problems in everyday life or at work. Millions of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) suggestions on Pinterest or Youtube once sprang from the imagination of both creative and pragmatic people.
  • Imagination increases the ability to learn
    Imaginative people make it faster and easier to acquire new knowledge or new skills. You often find unconventional ways to learn new things or discover surprising connections to keep this knowledge permanently. Donkey bridges or abbreviations of all kinds are based on this special ability to learn. Or to put it another way: Imagination enables us to think “out of the box”.
  • Imagination increases feelings of happiness
    Our thoughts and feelings go hand in hand. Our imagination has a correspondingly strong influence on our emotions - positively and negatively. Anyone who has experienced bad experiences or dealt with trauma will find a place of refuge in their imagination. Accordingly, imagination is often used in therapy. But it can also make us happy - by remembering beautiful things or experiencing anticipation.

Imagination is more important than knowledge because knowledge is limited. (Albert Einstein)

More imagination: methods & techniques

Children are still full of imagination, many adults suffocate them. Too bad. In doing so, it is extremely good for us. The good news is: our imagination is not completely lost, we just have to and can only wake it up. There are numerous methods and techniques that fire the imagination and help us to be more creative. In fact, it's not that difficult to create a framework in which we can fire our imaginations. These include, for example:


The classic creativity technique works best in a group of people who want to stimulate their imaginations. In brainstorming, different ideas on a topic are expressed and collected. It is also possible for participants to develop other people's ideas. This is done either through constructive criticism or by combining several ideas into a new one.


Brainwriting is a technique that is based on brainstorming. In contrast to the sometimes stormy and loud brainstorming, brainwriting is a rather calm method. Participants write down new ideas and impressions on a topic at their own pace. Even with brainwriting, it is possible that the various participants inspire each other to come up with new ideas, but only in the second phase of the process. In the first phase of the brainwriting, an evaluation and group discussion of the ideas is prohibited, so that each participant can first let their own imagination run wild.

Provocation technique

To give the imagination a try, you can also move away from the problem. Popular techniques are (using the example of the "Smart" car):

  • reversal: A Smart must be built as beefy as possible.
  • exaggeration: A Smart has to fit in a matchbox.
  • False statement: A smart is a bike.
  • .

Such provocative thoughts distract the mind from the original question. If you then deal with the actual problem, you get completely new approaches and connections, which in turn often lead to innovative results. In order to exploit the potential of the provocation technique, you should collect as many “crazy” ideas as possible. The more absurd the provocations before, the higher the probability that something useful will come out.

Role play

Role-playing games are a continuation of the games that children already play in kindergarten: "Father-Mother-Child", "Robber and Gendarme" or "Cowboy and Indian" - everyone used to play something like this in a changing line-up. You can also take this up in adulthood: Regardless of whether you play board games or mime different characters: role-playing games stimulate the imagination. The best-known forms of these role-playing games are the DeBono thinking hats, the Belbin team roles or the Disney method. Of course, you can also use the tried and tested methods of improvisational theater with the help of a director and a staging.


Those who often pursue their daydreams, relax and go for a walk, for example, stimulate their imagination simply by switching off the usual spirals of thought. Scientists at Stanford University found, for example, that a simple walk can increase creativity by 60 percent. Simply because we allow the imagination to take up space while hiking and indulging. The proverbial foresight also expands the spiritual horizon. It has been proven that we usually come up with the best ideas when we don't want to force them convulsively, but let go: in the shower, on vacation, on the toilet ...

Imagination: important when choosing a career

Imagination is not just about innovation. It also enables better decisions. For example, when choosing a career: How should you make the right decision if you cannot imagine whether and how you will later work in this profession (or in the industry), use your talents, develop yourself, have a career or be happy? !

Of course, the choice of profession is essentially based on a - realistic - examination of our goals in life, our own strengths and weaknesses. In short: on self-reflection. At the same time, however, we need imagination in order to imagine how the individual scenarios from this analysis could develop in order to ultimately make the currently best choice for us.

It doesn't even have to be set in stone. Imagination also helps here - for example, by dealing with failure mentally and in advance: Dropping out of studies or changing jobs no longer catches us completely cold because we have already lived through the scenario in our imagination and have overcome any obstacles. Thanks to imagination, we have a plan B in our pocket.

Which jobs require imagination?

There are even professions and jobs that in turn require a high level of imagination. Depending on the personality type, they are particularly suitable for particularly imaginative people. According to the so-called "Big Five", a model of personality psychology, this primarily affects people with strong values ​​in the area of ​​"openness". A particularly high level of imagination, experimentation and thirst for knowledge are ascribed to them. Such “imaginative” people need more opportunities in their job to develop and try out. Pure administrative or clerical jobs are hell for them.

Take a look at our job exchange to see which jobs are currently being offered that suit you. We have also put together a list for you of professions in which you need a high level of imagination. You can download this list for free at any time:

Download: Jobs with Imagination

Dream job or fantasy job?

However, there are two sides to the imagination when choosing a career. Here, too, the dose makes the poison. For example, when too much imagination leads to unrealistic ideas and wishes. If, for example, you overestimate your talents or underestimate your weaknesses and thus choose a profession in which you cannot succeed at all. The imagination can also tempt you to make demands on future employers and jobs that cannot be met at all. For example, that the "dream job" always has to be fun and bosses only ever find motivating words ...

In this case, the imagination leads to self-deception and disappointment. Whether you actually find your "dream job" or just chase a fantasy job depends not least on which realistic and personal (!) Goals you pursue or you are only oriented towards glamor, money and status.

Social significance of the imagination

Let's put it as it is: our relationship to fantasy is still divided today. It does enjoy a good reputation when it comes to a creative act and realized visions. But at the same time there is something infantile inherent in the power of imagination. Anyone who has a “vigorous imagination” is quickly regarded as a naive nutcase. Often, and mostly rightly, we urge people (children and adults) to remain “realistic”, to be “reasonable”, to act “logically” and “structured”. However, the freedom to think “outside the box”, to “dream” or to “dare” the impossible is neglected. Rationality is equated with truth, fantasy with the world of fables. Thinking in black and white. It is high time to rethink and give more space to the imagination - in work and life.

Keep your imagination: 8 tips

Efficiency, productivity and high speed in work processes often go hand in hand with routine behavior patterns and well-established processes. There is little room for imagination. There are a number of things you can do to ensure that you do not unlearn it and give it more freedom. Here are eight tips on how to maintain and inspire your imagination:

You stay curious

Children naturally have a great interest in their environment and new things. Imaginative people keep this curiosity in everyday life. They constantly try to rediscover their environment or to look at it from a different perspective. You can even practice this: the next time you are walking or taking the train along a familiar route, try to discover five things or objects that you have never noticed before. Next time, increase the number to ten. This exercise will make you more attentive and give you completely new impressions of your surroundings.

They build castles in the air

We also know this from children: They can invent new, exciting worlds out of nothing and live and play in them (almost real). Adults can also build castles in the air: Just imagine what your ideal world should look like. What would you change? What would stay the same Who could benefit from this and what is your role in the whole game? When you are happy with the design, ask yourself what is holding you back from getting one step closer to this ideal world!

You are critical

"We have always done it this way!" - A typical idea killer sentence that is supposed to nip any imagination in the bud. But a critical mind is not satisfied with that.Too simple! Critical thinking and questioning of routines helps to discover and free untapped potential. That doesn't mean that you have to do everything differently on principle. After all, some solutions have proven themselves to be the best over the years - such as the wheel. You don't have to reinvent it. But maybe something else.

You trust your gut feeling

If you want to inspire your imagination, you should trust your intuition more often. Decisions and ideas do not necessarily have to be objectively justified. Seemingly illogical decisions are often based on empirical knowledge that is simply not immediately available cognitively. Nevertheless, these inspirations can lead to a meaningful result.

You're spinning around

Fantasy doesn't always have something to do with reality. It doesn't have to either. It is not the goal, but a way to get there. So just don't let yourself be impressed by any regularities. No idea is absurd enough not to at least be considered. However, if it turns out to be completely absurd, you have at least given it a chance. The next idea is already waiting ...

You go into nature

Nature has always helped poets and thinkers to first ventilate their minds, then inspire them. Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, was seen as an enduring walker who did the grandiose
Knew how to use the Engadine backdrop. Ludwig van Beethoven always used to take a long walk after lunch, to which he also took pen and paper. The writer Charles Dickens, on the other hand, regularly strolled in the fresh air for up to three hours in the afternoon. The green of nature not only has a relaxing effect, it also puts an end to some harmful brooding. In addition, we do our brain good: through movement and fresh air, it is better supplied with oxygen, the imagination is stimulated and we can produce completely different thoughts and images than in the cramped, musty office.

You keep the overview

It is said that genius rules chaos. But it shouldn't get too chaotic on your excursion into the world of fantasy. In order to achieve useful results, you should not lose sight of the goal when dealing with complex questions. Those who just wander around in their minds will no longer make progress, get bogged down in trivialities and, in the worst case, come under time pressure.

They collect the best ideas

If it works, then it works: Once the ideas bubble out of the upper room like mad, you should write them down (or type into your smartphone or dictate). Perhaps you have an idea right now that can only be used at a later point in time. Notes expand memory. Incidentally, this does not only apply to your own ideas. You should also keep creative suggestions from others so that you can use them for future problems.

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