Spontaneity is something that many of us lack partly due to the nature of modern society. Most of us are used to a routine that involves going into an office, working for eight hours, then coming home to relax in front of the TV and wait for the next day. Our weekends perhaps have a little more variation to them and will tend to involve seeing friends or seeing the sights, but even this tends to be quite regimented and routine.
While impulsivity can lead us into trouble though, impulsivity is something that it’s important not to lose as it can add a lot more variety and colour to our daily lives and prevent things from becoming old and stale. New experiences are good for our brains and help us to test new neural pathways, while the ability to stay flexible will mean we’re better able to cope with the unexpected in future.
And apart from anything else, opening yourself up to more opportunities can lead to great things that you don’t expect. Watch, or better yet read ‘Yes Man’ for a good demonstration of how ‘saying yes more’ can change your life.
If you currently lack spontaneity though, me telling you to ‘get more spontaneous’ isn’t going to cut it. Like any change this is something that you will need to work at and that will require effort and commitment on your part. Here we will look at some tips that can help you change your thinking and start to enjoy a little more impulsivity.
Change Your Priorities
A lot of people it seems these days are more interested in living to work rather than working to live. If you find yourself refusing to take opportunities as they come because you want to save the money, or because you don’t have ‘time’ then you might fall into this category.
Realise then instead that the reason you work is so that you can afford to enjoy life, and that trying new things and seizing opportunities is what this is all about. If you are worried about going to bed late and being groggy the next day, or about spending the money you were going to save, then ask yourself which will probably make you happier in the long run. After all, what are you really saving for if not to enjoy more of these kinds of experiences?
Organize More Free Time
Part of the reason that many of us feel we have no time to do anything that’s unscheduled is that we have such a hectic and stressful lifestyle that we struggle to fit new activities in. If you don’t have much free time on a regular basis, then you need to find ways to clear up more so that you can say yes to a last minute offer to eat lunch out and so that you can afford to stop by a fairground on the way home.
Address Your Fears
Many of us are afraid to step out of our routine because it means embracing the unknown and because unknown variables mean things that can go wrong. When you think about being impulsive and doing new things then, your mind might turn to the kinds of things that could go wrong, whether you’re worried you’ll be late home, or you’re worried you’ll get stuck in an awkward situation. If you really think about it though, most of these fears are probably unfounded so take some time to think about the worst case scenarios – so what if you’re late? Send a message to your partner/house mates and they’ll probably understand. And so what if you have an awkward conversation? It will make a funny story and you won’t have to see those people again so why does it matter? Don’t fear bad experiences, because for the most part they have value too.
If you find yourself struggling still to overcome the fear of trying new things, then one way to get around this is to try involving others. For instance then, why not see if your partner wants to go to that fairground with you? Or call up some local friends and invite them? Likewise make an effort to swing by your friend’s home next time you’re in the area. Being spontaneous with a partner is a great way to experience new things with a safety net, but it will also help you to reinvigorate your relationship and to enjoy more unique shared experiences that can bring you closer together.
Learn to See the Opportunities
A lot of us will fail to be spontaneous and enjoy new experiences simply because we won’t see them. If you take the same route to work every morning for instance, then you’ll probably do so almost on autopilot without really seeing the world around you. Being more observant then can help you to spot new sights that weren’t there before, and interesting shops and restaurants hidden away that you perhaps normally miss. Why not take a detour for instance, try going the long way home every few days and see if you come across something different?
Open Your Mind
You may also find you need to open your mind up a bit if you hope to be truly more impulsive and to drop your preconceived notions of things. If you only ever experience things you know and things you like, then you aren’t truly trying new experiences and you aren’t really being spontaneous. For instance, the other day I went to a Scientology museum. Of course I’m 100% against Scientology and think it’s bonkers, and I knew going in that they were going to try and get me and my friend to sign up, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a funny and unique experience that we could tell our friends about, and that I didn’t get some insight into a very strange culture as a result. Likewise I will be tonight engaging in a dance/fitness DVD with my girlfriend that’s quite clearly aimed at women. But why not? It’s an experience and it’s by having broader experiences that you grow as a person.
On some occasions you can drive around all you want and fail to see anything exciting going on. That’s why you also need to chase down those unique experiences sometimes and this means looking for them when they don’t present themselves. There are always plenty of experiences out there for you – right now you have the option to go streaking (not recommended), to go online and explore Mars photos that have never been seen before (www.planet4.org – it’s amazing) or to go to the pub and challenge a stranger to a game of cards. In other words there are opportunities all around you, so just think about some of the things you want to experience and the things you want to try and then start working through that list! And while this is premeditated (and thus not totally spontaneous), just making a habit of doing new things and having a list of things you want to try will help you to enter a more spontaneous and adventurous frame of mind.
Make a Conscious Effort
Sometimes it’s hard to be more spontaneous if you’re stuck in a very rigid routine. As such then, it might be necessary for you to make a real conscious effort to be spontaneous rather than just hoping it will happen. This might mean making the effort do ‘two spontaneous things a week’ or it might mean organizing a time when you make an effort to do more unusual things (like ‘Anything Can Happen Thursday’ for the Big Ban Fans). Once you have done this for a while, you’ll find that spontaneity becomes habit, and that life becomes more colourful as a result.