Why is it that all the best lines from movies are the ones that were improvised?
Improv is fun, spontaneous, it happens here in the present moment. It’s our natural state after all. We live most of our lives just “making it up as we go along”.
Sometimes we plan. And some people plan more than others.
Planning can be good because improv is *messy*, improv is rarely perfect. It’s silly, zany, wiggly. Improv is like that kid who refused to colour inside the lines, and just wildly uses whatever’s lying around and smears it all over then page then stops the artwork halfway through and gets distracted doing something else.
However planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. Planning’s not wrong, it’s just when we get too attached to our plans that we end up hurting ourselves and often others. This is a trick our ego plays on us, by focusing too much on our imagined future, planning can cheat us out of the beauty in our present moment.
I write this lying in bed next to my fiancé. She’s singing and nattering away to herself, as she does. It’s charming, if a touch distracting. Periodically interrupting my writing further to tell me new things she’s remembered that she wants me to add to my shopping list and go and get for her when I go shopping.
It’s actually quite hard to stay focused. There’s a part of me that’s annoyed. Yes, I could set a boundary and ask for quiet focus time, I usually would. I could even go and do my writing elsewhere.
But there’s also a part of me that’s amused at how easily I am frustrated. Why is my ego so wedded to wanting to do my thing right now!!? Why so attached to that plan?
Why not enjoy the improv? Enjoy the interaction. My writing will still be here later, but the interaction is here right now!
In improv theatre they teach actors how to be in the moment and create flowing, fun, and beautiful spontaneous creations and interactions.
There’s only one rule in improv: Yes And…
The Yes And Rule states that no matter what anyone says or does, you must roll with it and respond with “yes and”, then add onto the narrative.
No matter what’s been said or done, no matter what’s going on around you, you never stop and argue about whether it should or shouldn’t have happened, whether it’s fair, or right, or try to reverse the direction or decision another actor has made. IT HAPPENED! It’s in the past now. It’s now a part of the canon of this story. Embrace it and move forwards!
Then say “yes and…” and off you go. Where will you take the story now?
What if we said “yes and” to life?
It might be a free ticket out of some of the traps our ego lays for us. It could be a way to avoid victimhood and stay empowered no matter what’s happening around us or to us.
Is it a “perfect” solution? No!
Improv is never perfect. It’s silly, zany, wiggly. It’s messy!
But I reckon it’s still worth a try. Even for larger frustrations, and there’s a lot of frustration going around right now.
Socrates famously said…
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building by the new”.
Sounds like the spirit to “yes and” started long ago. I intend to follow in his footsteps.
Will you join me in my commitment to detachment?
Next time you notice yourself feeling unfairly treated, see if you can challenge yourself to say “yes and”, then find a better way forwards.
Where will you take your story now?