I remember fantasizing about my wedding as a little girl. I would picture my dress and how I would feel on that day. However, when I imagined the groom, he was always faceless. I could not think of a specific person that would be standing up there and I would wonder when that groom would have a face and what he would be like. This is the strange result of the way that the human brain works. Because we cannot logically see into the future, our brains just make things up based on our past experiences. I had been to a wedding, seen a dress, and felt the joy while I was there, so I could picture these things happening at my own wedding. I had not had an experience with my future husband or known what he would act like, so my brain put in only what it knew at that moment.

It’s human nature for our brains to daydream about upcoming life milestones or events. Our bodies are wired to wonder about the future and the mystique that it possesses. This is why the premise of many TV shows and movies focus on someone who can see into the future. This is the strange excitement people get over reading a fortune cookie. This wondering is the basis for superstition and the reason that the Magic 8 Ball was a fad.

People wonder for two main reasons: curiosity and fear. Curiosity driven wondering looks like this: I wonder who I am going to marry. I wonder if I will get that promotion. I wonder if my kids will grow up to be smart. Fear driven wondering looks like this: I wonder if my marriage will fail in 10 years. I wonder if I will get fired from my job at some point. I wonder if my kids will grow up to be troubled. What if we could turn all of that wondering into something positive and productive?

If you can visualize your future the way that you want it to look, then you are one step closer to living that future. Imagining positive aspects of your life gives you a representation of what to strive for. This is why vision boards are so helpful. You select future goals and post them on a board that hangs where you will see those goals daily. When you see them often enough, you start to picture yourself successfully reaching them. I like to call this The Wonder Effect.

These goals can be short term or long term. For example, if you are working hard at responding positively to stimulus (negative or positive) in your day, you can take a few minutes in the morning to visualize yourself doing so. Instead of just aimlessly wondering what you would say or do to react, you make a conscious effort to make that positive response in the scenario that you are imagining. This trains your brain to respond to situations the way that you hope to. Again, if you can visualize it, you can achieve it. If you aspire to own a company, you may not have all of the knowledge to fill in how you would do that. What you can do is visualize all of the parts that you do know. You can imagine your name with the word “Founder and CEO” after it. You can picture yourself speaking to your employees. As you start to visualize these things, the gaps of knowledge will begin to fill.

The Wonder Effect only works if you choose curiosity driven wondering over fear driven wondering. It is a conscious decision to dream about the future. It is a tactic to visualize the dreams that you have so that you can eventually achieve those goals.

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