Skip to content

Dream On

Ideas in Action Create Our World

It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that society is huge, and the individual is less than nothing, but the truth is individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different. - Neil Gaiman

Ideas in action create our world. We are a species with the capacity to shape our lives creatively. If the direction the world is taking and your circumstances are making you fearful, nurture inspiring ideas to help raise your spirits, expand your world and perhaps inspire others.

Here's a great example of how an inspiring idea is changing a community: In Michigan the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office introduced an experimental Teen Court Program where the juvenile appears before a jury of his peers represented by a teen "defense attorney." The positive results of teenagers who broaden their horizons by wearing different shoes are staggering. 90% of defendants who complete the program are never re-arrested and teenagers are involved in their communities while learning about the criminal justice system. In the words of sixteen-year-old "defense attorney" Cayden Brown, "Making change is the number one goal."

Because ideas are so powerful, they are a question long posited. Plato was one of the first philosophers to explore ideas and, centuries later, there are numerous theories as to where ideas originate. History shows many ideas evolving from precedent. As animals evolve to adapt, our brains create ideas from what we inherit from those who came before.

This accounts of one person having an idea and somebody, worlds apart, having the same idea about the same time. Extraordinarily Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray submitted patent applications for the telephone hours apart. This has become an endless controversy as many others, such as Antonio Meucci, pursued the same idea for years.

Author of Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert believes there are additional components. She believes many ideas are disembodied, energetic life-forms swirling through space, looking for available and willing humans to bring the concept to life. This theory could partly account for "out of the blue" ideas which have no direct link with knowledge, experience or environment.

As a result of the mysterious nature of ideas, thousands of experiments are conducted to explore the connections between creativity and memory, knowledge, imagination and dreams. With no definitive answers, I believe all these factors play a part.

Inspiring ideas in motion help one’s well-being. Constant worry makes the world feel insular and claustrophobic, like being trapped on a Ferris wheel fueled by spiraling fears of the past and the future. This mental posturing is limited and finite for it occurs in the vacuum of your mind. When you take time to create something (however modest) from an idea, it takes you out of fear and into the present. With imagination, dreaming, exploration and curiosity you can enter an expansive and infinite realm of surprises and treasures, both life-affirming and thrilling.

Ideas need room to land and grow. Many people I know have their best ideas when unplugged from distractions like in the shower or on a quiet walk. Take note of when your ideas show up and incorporate them into your routine wherever possible. It may be driving a different route, reading inspiring books, collaborating, or brainstorming with open-minded people. And always jot it down. This turns a fleeting idea into something more tangible and avoids it getting lost.

Once you decide to pursue an idea, the challenge of transforming it from something vague into something solid takes discipline and fortitude, Break it down into manageable steps and take the first step, however small. Starting can be a challenge but don't be discouraged; adding to a project already in process becomes easier the more you do especially if you have collaborators who share your vision.

Then the challenge of finishing. Ending can be tricky because nothing feels good enough. Not perfect is better than not completing; a feeling of progress can be intoxicating. Never let yourself be discouraged. If you are courageous enough to share your ideas, you will inevitably face criticism. Try not to take it personally because, in the words of the writer Neil Gaiman, "The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before."