As treacly as it sounds, there’s actually a science to imagination. Put simply, the task of effectively envisioning things that are not is made possible via several networks of neurons working in unison. This mammalian skill has many practical functions, some of which are explored further here, but an active imagination is most often discussed in relation to childhood. One of the benefits of being a brand new person—one that is wholly unfamiliar with the boring trappings of how the world around you works, is you get to fill in the details with whatever you like with complete societal impunity.
Research suggests that cognitive creativity peaks around age six. As we get older, our thought patterns begin to mimic that of our mentors and caretakers. On an adaptation level, it’s our psyche processing how the successful people in our lives navigate, or as computational neuroscientist, Paul King, puts it, we become “prisoners to our own success. ” According to a new study of 2,000 adults conducted by One Poll and commissioned by Cineworld, more than 50% of the respondents queried believe that it becomes harder and harder to find enthusiasm in everyday life after you become an adult. More directly estimating that life is the least fun after the age of 45. ‘
“It is because of their often more heightened sense of imagination and ability to act without worry of what people might think, that children are free to embrace the fun side of life,” explains psychoanalyst Steve McKeown on the back of the new study.
Worlds well known
The study derived its data from a crop of citizens living in the UK. Four in 10 of these said that the very “concept of fun” ended completely after turning 45, and an additional 60% of this same demographic reported being incapable of seeking out enjoyable experiences on the day to day. Ten percent of the participants examined in the report said that they do not partake in any fun throughout a typical week, with the majority of this minority occasioning a lack of energy, a lack of money, or a lack of understanding of how one goes about having fun.
Eighty-three percent of respondents felt they usually had more fun when they were around children, compared to adults. To this point, 60% of the adults surveyed desperately wish to reclaim that imagination spark from their childhood.
“From the research, we can see that a lot of Brits simply don’t know where to start when it comes to having fun, but it could be as simple as just spending more time with our loved ones, says Mckeown. “With psychological benefits including reduced stress and increased happiness, spending time together as a family is a great way to inject that sense of childish fun back into our lives.”