Whenever I feel like I’ve hit a dead end, I think of my friend Lisa, and how she found an incredible new possibility in a situation that didn’t seem to have an answer.
Lisa and I worked together on the set of Guiding Light – me as Lucy, her in the production office. Years passed, and we stayed friends, and a few years ago, she met a guy in a Yankees fan chat room. As you might guess, both are huge Yankees fans. And it wasn’t long before they got married.
He was living in Maryland, where he was from, and she was living in a tiny apartment in NYC. So the question was, where should they live?
Neither of them wanted to live in the other person’s city. But in order to create a new life together, they felt, they needed to start fresh, to build a life somewhere they both felt home.
They were in a stalemate. Until one of them said, “What if we bought an RV, and traveled the country until we find somewhere we want to stay?”
So that’s what they did.
They got a gorgeous RV, so luxurious it’s like a home on wheels. They planned trips to everywhere they’d never been before – the Grand Canyon, Mount St. Helen’s, Mount Rushmore, New Orleans. They’d follow the Yankees. They’d go to spring training in Florida, then back to Maryland to see his grandkids, then pop in to New York to see Lisa’s friends.
They’ve been on the road for a year and a half now, and have no plans to settled down anytime soon. They’re still roaming the country, loving their mobile lifestyle and all the places they’ve seen. It’s their home, and they created it from a sense of possibility.
It came from “What if?”
“Possibility is a force that has transformed the world,” says Srini Pillay, M.D. and pioneer in the field of “neurocoaching,” in his recent TED-X Talk. “It’s what allowed us to go to the moon, to find the most amazing love affairs, to invent the internet.”
How, though? Well, it’s all rooted in brain science. According to Pillay, the brain has a GPS in its posterior parietal cortex – a system designed to help get you from Point A to Point B. But it only works if you tell it what Point B is. Which means, you have the ability to get anywhere in life that you want, simply by asking your brain how to get there.
But the problem is, many of us don’t do that. We’re so scared of failing, or we’re so used to thinking small, that we don’t dare to imagine what’s possible. We stick to the status quo. We do what others expect. Our Point B isn’t very imaginative.
That’s why it’s so inspiring to hear stories like Lisa’s. Whenever someone steps out of the norm, does something totally different – that just makes me do a little victory dance. It’s so excited to hear about, because it proves that it is possible.
“When all else fails,” says Pillay, “imagine. Imagination feed the GPS system in the brain. And when it does, it also activates the action center in the brain.”
Even by asking yourself the question – and answering it, of course – you’re beginning the process of figuring out how to get there. Pillay calls it “preemptive perception” – when your brain starts to figure out a problem before you’re conscious of it.
(That’s one reason powerful questions are so important. Your brain is constantly working to solve problems. In fact, it solves any problem you hand it, like a really good math student. So make sure you’re giving it the “problems” you want solved – things like How can I get where I want? What am I doing well? not Why do I suck? Read more on that here.)
So what is it for you?
What would happen if you approached a challenge or decision with a sense of breathless possibility?
What would you do, if anything in the world were possible?
If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
Go out, imagine, and shine.
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. – Thoreau
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