Do you believe in magic?
A little while ago I visited, what I would describe as, an ‘old curiosity shop’. It was filled with all kinds of interesting objects. But what caught my eye was a tiny, glass bottle with a cork in it, half-filled with sand and with a little, rolled-up, paper scroll inside.
Intriguingly, the label on the side said ‘Wishes jar’ and, as I reached inside and unravelled the paper, I read these words:
‘Write down your wishes on this scroll
Now sit down quiet and close your eyes.
In a full moon with skies deep blue
Fairies take flight and wishes come true’
As I read, I realised these tiny, magical instructions represented one of the core principles on which I had founded my entire professional life.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.
He was incarcerated throughout the Second World War in a series of concentration camps. He emerged the other side of the experience to write the landmark book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and founded logo therapy, an existential school of psychotherapy.
He told many stories of his terrible times during that period of his life. One in particular, is a powerful illustration of the enormous power of the human mind and spirit.
On a cold winter’s day in Poland, he recounts, he was being force-marched through a field with a group of other prisoners.
Cold and malnourished, he dropped to his knees. On seeing this, one of the guards began to beat him with a club, yelling at him to get up or face being left there to die.
Frankl struggled to stand, but could not.
In that moment, he says, a vision came to him of himself, not in Poland, but delivering a lecture on the psychology of the death camps, standing before a rapt audience.
In his talk, he saw how he would describe how some prisoners were able to survive this terrible situation psychologically and emotionally better than others. And as he visualised, he says a miracle happened.
He found the strength to get up and continue walking. He continued to draw on the vision of his post-war speech to tap into an inner strength that allowed him to get through the day.
Nearly 50 years later, Frankl did indeed receive a standing ovation before an audience of 7000, after delivering the exact speech he had visualised during those terrible moments.
Shape your perfect future
Just as Viktor Frankl tapped into his vision of the future and reconnected to hope, we can all make a decision to use, or misuse, our enormously powerful imaginations.
You can either choose to shape your perfect future by creating a positive and empowering vision or create a negative, self-limiting image.
The neuroscience of magic
We now understand so much more about our innate brain filters and the power of imagination and focused attention. Our reticular activating system (RAS) means what we focus on is what we move towards.
We can use this information to help us create the goals which can change our lives.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would your perfect life actually look like? Would you have a better job, more money, be fitter or slimmer?
And what would your perfect relationship look like? What would be your the ideal family situation? How many friends would you have? Where would you live?
Human beings are hardwired to be goal focused. Yet how many of us actually take the time to firm up the picture of our ultimate goal, the life we want to live, and the things we want to be remembered for?
The positive power of Pinterest
If you’re ready to shape your perfect future by tapping into the one of your most incredible resources, your imagination, then try this exercise:
- Considering these areas of your life; work, money, health, partner, family, friends, learning and home.
- Now ask yourself, if you had all the money in the world, all the energy, all the resources you needed and failure was simply not an option, what would that perfect life look like?
- Now bring the vision out of your head and into the world by writing your vision down, creating a vision board or collecting images online in a forum like Pinterest.
And, if you have the time, make your very own ‘Wishes jar’ and entrust the fairies to begin work on your behalf.