Visualization is not a new concept in the world of self-improvement. To explain it simply, positive visualization is the act of imagining what you want so it manifests in your life.

How It Works

Visualization is not the same as “making a wish.” When you hope for something, you daydream about having it in the future. With visualization, however, you imagine yourself already having that thing you want. You form a mental image of yourself enjoying and living the event or thing you imagine. There are no specific rules regarding visualization. You do it the way it works for you — and sometimes that means trying out different methods to find the perfect match. For example, let’s say that your goal is to be able to run a marathon. One way of using positive visualization is to sit down in a quiet place, close your eyes, and spend some time imagining yourself running that marathon.

Don’t focus only on the image. Instead, try to feel the wind at your face and the pounding on the pavement at your feet as you run towards the finish line. Pay attention to the beating of your heart and to the feeling of success that comes with being able to complete the run. Then, imagine yourself crossing the finish line, arms up, crowd cheering.

Of course, positive visualization doesn’t work if you’re picturing yourself in a bikini this summer as you finish digesting a one-pound burger and fries. This technique is an added tool for your goals that needs to be complimented with hard work, commitment, and dedication. Next time, instead, if you know you’re going to a restaurant where you’ll want to order the burger and fries, imagine yourself ordering the salad or chicken and veggies – then complete that image with the one in the bikini.

The power of visualization is in actually believing that what you’re seeing is true. If the mental image alone is not enough, you can reinforce it by creating a dream board — a simple cork board on which you pin images that reflect what you want. Want to finish that marathon? Find a picture of somebody crossing the finish line victorious and put it on the board. The more you look at it and visualize yourself doing the same, the more chances the image will become a reality.

Celebrities Who Use It

Lou is a big fan of visualization. In fact, he’s been quoted saying that visualization is responsible for his success as two-time Mr. Universe, adding that when he wasn’t training, he was imagining the growth of his muscles, the definition of his body, and his success on the stage. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have also used visualization extensively to achieve what they wanted in the world of sports and business. Woods has said he spent long hours visualizing the perfect golf shot before he was actually able to make it. Will Smith used positive visualizations techniques at the beginning of his career.

In fact, in an interview with PBS’ Tavis Smiley, Smith said that he visualized success long before it actually reached him. And Jim Carrey actually went a step beyond imagining success by writing himself a check for 10 million dollars “for acting services rendered.” When he wrote the check, he was an unknown, underpaid actor. A decade later, he was paid that exact amount for his work on Dumb and Dumber.

Scientific Evidence

There’s no actual scientific evidence that positive visualization actually works — at least not for things like getting a new car or losing 20 lbs. But there is evidence that the brain has a very real and a very powerful impact on the body. For example, studies have shown that when amputees imagine moving a missing limb, blood flood to the area actually increases. Scientists teach patients how to use this visualization technique after surgery to prevent death of tissue at the incision area, which occurs when circulation stops.

The Bottom Line

If the brain is powerful enough to affect blood flow, don’t you think it might have some impact on the way you behave and act? There is only one way to find out: start visualizing today.