When was the last time you had FUN? Not the pleasant experience of a great dinner or the alcohol-fueled banter of a social gathering. I’m talking about the spontaneous laughter that occurs with others when it’s fueled by imagination?! (Hint: As children, we called it PLAY.) If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. That was one of the reasons that I took Improv classes years ago. Those classes woke up my imagination. I reconnected with the child I had once been who loved playing make-believe. After years of constructing my professional persona, I was surprised at the joy I got from ditching it completely. By immersing myself in weekly “play”, I realized how constricting my “persona” had become. Much like pandemic isolation, our current situations can dull our capacity for fun. Life can become flat. “So what?” you may ask. 

Did you know that we are most resourceful when we feel good? Would being more resourceful be useful during the coming year? If so, I invite you to join me in practicing these rules of Improv. Though it may seem strange to have rules for being spontaneous, consider trying them for just one week. Whether you try them with your partner or with others you encounter, just stick to these “rules”. You may be pleasantly surprised that your life becomes more fun.

1) Yes, AND…Have you noticed that “yes, but…” ends discussions or turns them into arguments? Saying “yes, and” allows ideas to flow. Eliminating the option to say “yes, but…” means that you cannot cancel someone else’s idea or make them wrong; you can only expand ideas. That forces you to find ways to contribute to, rather than discount them. You’ll find that contributing to others’ ideas naturally leads to new conversations, and the potential for FUN (because we’re not limited to justifying ourselves).

2) Release all judgment…against yourself or others. Ridding yourself of judgment frees up enormous amounts of time and energy. After all, when you judge yourself or others, you limit your perspective. You only see what you are judging and miss seeing the full range of possibilities. Whether you want more fun or more success this year, you’ll need to be resourceful and creative, both of which are linked to feeling good. Judging inhibits that feel-good pathway by constricting your energy. Free yourself of judging, and you’ll unleash creativity. Creativity requires trust….in yourself and in others… and trust requires safety. Begin exercising trust in your relationships. Become a “judgment free zone” and notice your creativity surging!  

3) Fully commit. Have you noticed that when you are scattered, your energy is low?  And when you fully commit to something, your energy goes up? Taking action becomes easier because you’re focused on a purpose.  Purpose feels good…and feeling good raises our energy!  Improv requires full commitment to our words and actions.  Otherwise, we’d confuse our audience. (Remember when you were a kid and you fully committed to whatever you were pretending at the time?)  That lined up your energy and gave your playmates cues, which created the scene.  If we are scattered or disconnect from others by being “in our heads”, the scene bombs.  Fully commit to your words and actions at home or at work and experience the difference.  Your energy will be higher, AND you just may find that others want to join you!

4) Be aware of others. Your actions affect others, whether you’re in a work group, a family, or an Improv troupe. Focusing on how you can benefit the larger group expands your perspective and purpose. In Improv, we must pay close attention to others in the scene in order to integrate our actions and move it forward. It’s the same in life IF you allow yourself to “play off each other” in a fun way. (Remember how fun that was as a kid when you played roles in a make-believe world?)   

If you commit to using these principles for just one week, you’ll experience more joy.  Why? You’ll be eliminating all the most common reasons people stall themselves! Self-focus, confusion, doubt and blame will vanish. Not only will your resourcefulness improve, but you’ll have more fun. Test them and find out for yourself!  We cannot erase the challenges ahead, but we can be more resourceful in handling them, and we can have more FUN along the way!

QUOTE TO REMEMBER

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love,
I can: all of them make me laugh.” – W. H. Auden

NOTE FROM LINDA

Welcome to 2021. For better or worse, we’ve weathered the struggles of 2020 and arrived in the uncharted territory of a new year. Normally, the holiday season is a time of reflection for me. A time to review the past and set renewed intentions for the coming year. But this year, as Ron and I remained isolated from those we love to be around, I found myself feeling low. Not that there weren’t moments.

As the holidays approached, my energy was high. As I decorated, sent out Christmas cards, and searched for gifts online, I felt happier and more energetic than I had in months. That’s when I realized what had been missing. Although I had fulfilled all my civic, family, and personal promises, I missed having FUN! 

Linda Cobb