Asking 'What if?'

If I could impart one critical tool for creative thinking, it would be the 'what if' mindset. What if is the ability to shift your perspective, to challenge old habits, to consistently ask, 'What if we did it a new way?' In practice, I find myself literally shifting my head, tilting it it to the side, as I begin thinking 'what if we...' My coworkers have grown so accustomed to this, if they see my head shift, they pause and ask for my what if idea. And with that, collaborative brainstorming has begun! What if is an invitation to others - to dream, to try and fail, to make more meaning out of life. 

None is better at this mindset than Anne Basting, Founder of Timeslips. During COVID19 changes, Anne shared a story of a care residence who enchanted an otherwise mundane hand sanitizer station, offering glitter as fairy dust alongside the sanitizer! Inspired by Anne's poetry prompts, we've created a What If poem for you to do alone, with a partner, or with a group. Here to show us how it's done is Aliya, Activity Coordinator at St. Paul's Towers in Oakland, CA. Listen to her reading of a collaborative poem created by residents living with memory loss, entitled Additional Perspective

Click here to download the What If poem prompt and create your own (text-only poem prompt here)! If you do, we'd love to see it! Please email us at

1 comment

  • What if – hammering, building and renewal

    Could bring me – patience, acceptance and equanimity?

    What if – creative organizing and community building

    Could transform – how we bring people back together, beyond Zoom?

    Bill Haskell, San Francisco Village

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