When we think of the word misuse, we are likely to link it to things like power, money, and time. At different times in my life I have misused all the above. But what else to do we misuse to our detriment?

Last week, I was listening to a conversation between Marc Maron and the singer Jewel.  She was discussing her lifelong struggles with mental health and in particular how much she worried about being good enough or belonging. At some point, she had the realization that worrying was a misuse of her creativity. After all, when we worry we create various doomsday scenarios in our mind on how this or that will go horribly wrong.  Worrying as a creative act that displaces other forms of creative energy had never occurred to be but rang so true.

Earlier, I had stumbled upon a new book, Imagination: A Manifesto by Ruha Benjamin and then later watched her give this talk. Benjamin argues that we misuse our imagination by focusing on faraway future advances in technology rather than using our collective imagination to improve the lives of others today. Why use our imagination to envision how to live on Mars when we could envision a life on earth “without prisons or with schools that foster the genius of every child?”

To consider the collective imaginations and creativity of humankind is an act of absolute awe. Realizing that everything around you that humans have created – from buildings to books to cities to concerts to mobile technologies to medical breakthroughs and on and on and on – was first the product of someone’s imagination and creativity. It is truly astonishing.

When we spend time in our own minds worrying about things beyond our control or using our collective imaginations to create marginal advancements that don’t really improve our lives, we misuse what makes us special and powerful.

Just imagine if you channeled all your time and energy spent worrying into creating something wonderful. Instead of using our imagination to envision the extremes of dystopia or utopia, we focused our incredible gift of imagination on improving the moment at hand.

It all starts with questioning ourselves: “Am I misusing these gifts? Could I be channeling my creativity and imagination towards something truly positive?”

Now, imagine if we all did this. In the famous words of Louis Armstrong, “What a wonderful world that would be.”

This Week’s Recommendation:  During a particularly challenging day this week, I went down to our waterfront and sat, staring at the sun’s reflection on the water. As I sat there, I noticed five different species of birds, listened to kids giggling in the background, and basked in the warmth of the sun as a cool breeze fell over me. It was so absolutely nourishing. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try finding a place in nature and just become one with it.  I hope it will bring as much peace and replenishment to you as it did me.

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