Creativity 101: How to Be a Good Guardian of Your Imagination


We all have magificent imaginations. For many of us, our imaginations are hard-working watchdogs, concocting scenarios of danger to keep us alert and on-track. Also known as worrying.

Imagining the worst helps us prepare for and prevent troubles. This is a necessary function of being alive, but it doesn't leave much room for creativity. Rather than try to stop this "negativity," we can appreciate our imaginations and protect them from going overboard.

How do we do this? We become fierce, loving guardians of our imaginations. We ensure they get rest from their tough job. We give them food for thought, and we provide time for play.

In short, we protect the protectors. Here’s how.

5 Healthy Habits to Protect Your Imagination

1. Manage the input.

Imaginations will run amok when overburdened with negative images. Wherever you have choice, choose to be a wise guardian.

  • Limit exposure to violent and distressing images in television and movies. Also limit scrolling, as it is overstimulating and numbing. Become as discerning for your psyche as you would for a beloved child.
  • Abstain from the news. We are told that we need to be better informed, but our citizenry is absolutely drowning in information. Rather than consume the random shocks of 24-hour news, protect your mind and intentionally research issues you care about when you are resourced enough to do so.
  • Have boundaries. It is of course important to have boundaries with negative or gossipy people. It is equally as important to have boundaries with loved ones and teachers--not because they are doing anything wrong, but because you need time and space to know your own mind.

2. Give yourself time to process your daily experiences.

No matter how well you manage the optional input, shit happens. Every. Single. Day. You cannot control the world (or even your own life!), but you can grace your mind with the time to process what happens. Good, bad and neutral days are all full of experiences that can be learned from if you give yourself time to reflect. You might process through:

  • Journaling/Morning Pages

  • Mindful activity. Allow it to be slow, spacious and simple so your mind can wander and integrate subconsciously. You could garden or weed, clean, take a walk, or do some yoga.

  • Image creation. This isn’t capital A “Art” but simply an exercise in making meaning with a different side of your brain. Rather than articulate your experiences through language, try creating an image through drawing or collage that represents how you feel/what you saw/what you are learning.

3. Feed your imagination with beauty, novelty and awe! REGULARLY!

This is my partner looking up in awe at a grove of aspens in Colorado. Such majesty in the sights and sounds of nature inspires us!

This is my partner looking up in awe at a grove of aspens in Colorado. Such majesty in the sights and sounds of nature inspires us!

This is fun with friends, but you don’t need to wait to coordinate schedules. You can also take an Artist Date, a solo excursion to be with your inner child. It could be…

  • a trip to the thrift store to find treasures

  • time in nature (Dude, there’s waterfalls, rivers, trees, sunsets and stuff out there!)

  • trying something new: a flamenco class, a weird food, a new craft, driving home a different way from work

  • going to a new place--alone!

  • taking in high quality art, literature or music

  • reaching out to someone who inspires you and see if you can interview them


You have now intentionally mixed beauty+novelty+awe with the strange, mundane and challenging experiences of daily life. Now make something! Nothing is so empowering to your imagination as becoming manifest in the real, tangible world!

  • Allow yourself to spend time on creating. Posting a pic to Instagram doesn't give your imagination enough time to make meaning from your experience. Your imagination is deeply nourished and emboldened when you allow it to develop into full self-expression.

  • Try lots of different mediums. You don’t need to be “good at” anything to begin playing with it. Try paints, crayons, sculpture, film, blogging, ink, costuming, dance, anything! You are allowed to be a beginner. You are allowed to make a mess. You are allowed to express yourself!

5. Take care of your body.

Your imagination is really just the outcome of physical processes in your body and the organ of your brain. If you don’t care for your body, you imagination simply cannot function brightly. You don’t have to become an athlete, but you must care for the basics:

  • Rest. This means sleeping enough AND relaxation.

  • Eat. Eat regularly, eat real food, eat balanced meals.

  • Drink water. Seriously.

  • Move your body. Any which way you please.

  • Take care of your hygiene. Cleanliness, medical checks, dental, vision.

I want to acknowledge that while this kind of body care is basic, it. is. not. easy. We are busy and burdened by a million unhealthy influences. Make it a top priority to experiment and find out the best habits for you. Your body is the foundation of absolutely everything.

You Can Do It!

Your imagination is a precious gift. Take care of it, and free yourself up to innovate and create. It is a way to love kind to ourselves and to contribute beauty to the world. Win-win.

How do you care for your imagination? What has it created lately? Share your personal essays, poems and images or submit an experiment!