100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 67. When In Doubt, Improvise

Being so scared for not knowing the answers, so nervous that you may screw things up… I know the feeling, I’ve been there too. Many times. So many times that, at some point, I simply got tired of it. And I learned to just go with the flow.

When in doubt, improvise. It will be so good and then the real answer will be surprising.

Because, as a matter of fact, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Trying too hard to fit into a fixed set of patterns will lead you sooner or later to a roadblock. A place where you simply don’t know which is right and which is wrong.

When you got there, well, improvise. Go with your heart. Trust your inner voice. Not only you’ll eliminate one of the deepest fears we’re all carrying inside, the fear of being wrong, but you may have some real fun in the process.

Improvisation it’s like practicing your spontaneity muscles, The more you do it, the easier you’ll find to walk in your own shoes. 

The 3 “Must Have” To Properly Improvise

1 Always Say “Yes”

Ever been to an improv show? Ever been stoked by how those actors are coming out with funny stuff each and every time and how each and every time it’s different?

There was a period in my life when I went to improv shows every weekend, for almost a year. And so I learned that one of the base rules of improvisation (and I’m talking about that hardcore improvisation, the one you do on the stage, in front of dozens of people) is to always say “yes” at what the other partner is throwing at you.

Let’s say your partner starts a story about a girl who was driving a car. You don’t say: “no, it wasn’t a car, it was a bike”. You go: “yes, and suddenly she faced a crossroad, in the middle of the desert”. And he will pick up with something like: “yes, and there were cars lined up for miles, because there was a clown in the middle of the road”. Now, you got the idea.

Saying yes has a very profound meaning. It acknowledges and validates your reality. When the going gets tough, you don’t solve it by escaping, but by going through. And you can’t go through if you don’t accept what it is.

2 There’s No Right Or Wrong Continuation, Just Move Forward

As long as you advance. You gotta push the story forward somehow. If you say “yes” but you just circle in the same situation, you’re not improvising. Just move things forward somehow. Add something else to the plate. Do something unexpected. Even if it seems dumb. Or especially if it seems dumb. Because there are no right or wrong moves in improvisation. That’s why it’s called improvisation, you have to do what you can with what you have.

3 Work From The Gut Connection

One of the most powerful resources we have is the unconscious mind. Or the stuff that goes behind the curtains while we’re busy trying to get a grip of reality. This unconscious mind processes information, stores results and creates inferences that we’re hardly aware of. And it does this incessantly.

Any time we’re improvising, we’re in fact going with our “gut”, with our intuition. That connection, if properly used, tends to grow. Like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Improvisation acts like a constant stretch of this muscle, it helps tremendously with its development.

And, guess what, this gut connection is useful not only when you feel lost or confused. As you learn to properly use it and to trust it, you will learn how to make better decisions, in less time, regardless of the context.

further reading

How To Listen To Your Intuition

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