In a North Vietnamese prison Bob Shumaker would spend as many as ten to twelve hours a day designing his dream house in his mind. He imagined the house he would build for his young family with such vividness that he knew exactly how many nails and bricks the house would contain. Shumaker was held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese for eight years. During that time he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement. Upon his release he was able to reenter his life, support his wife and son, and eventually build the house he had so often built in his mind. His resilience is astonishing.
One lesson I took away from Shumaker’s story is just how powerful visualization can be. By imagining his future home Shumaker connected to feelings associated with that home. He also increased the likelihood that he would eventually build the home by getting extremely clear on what he wanted. You can try this visualization technique by doing the following.
1) Pick one area of your life that you would like to improve.
2) Close your eyes and imagine that this area of your life has turned out exactly as you would like it.
3) Bring this ideal image fully to life by engaging all five of your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?
4) Spend some time in your scenario, fully experiencing it.
5) Notice what feelings the scenario evokes. If it brings you positive emotions you’re on the right track.
6) Enjoy the feelings that you created.
See if doing this exercise doesn’t brighten your day. It’s a powerful tool to connect you more fully to where you’d like to go.
To learn more about Bob Shumaker’s story check out the PBS documentary ‘This Emotional Life’.