I recently signed up for a 7-week improv class with a local theater in downtown Portland. After one class, I was so inspired by the potential that lies within this practice. It’s about being present, saying “yes," taking risks, daring to be dull, and celebrating failures and successes equally. We are a group of eight strangers with unique backgrounds and perspectives and already we are experiencing a connection and freedom that is inevitable in this kind of practice.
The objective is to make each other look good; which instills trust in your partner and ultimately freedom to play within the scene. It is about building, growing, and expanding; it is not about rejecting, invalidating, or promoting egos. In order to participate, a few important skills must be practiced, including: listening, awareness, and logical reaction. I am taking this class not because I have any theatrical obligations or goals, but rather to have a creative release. I needed a place to play, be silly, laugh, work with people, and grow. Our teacher honors our creativity and encourages the process. I feel empowered by the parallels of improv and other aspects of life; one example is through yoga and meditation, which also requires presence, awareness, and connectedness. This got me to thinking of how else to apply these practices, which led to a list of ways to live more creatively.
1.Surround yourself with inspiration:
artwork in many varieties, books, fabrics/textiles, textures, shapes, nature, colors, no color, personal history, music, movies, games, things that inspire YOU. The more you are surrounded with that resonates with you, the more prone you may be to randomly sparked creativity.
2. Think outside of your box:
listen to a genre of music not previously explored, read a book by an author of a different lifestyle, take a different route to work, try a style you’ve not considered before (clothing, mindsets, dietary options, etc). Considering another perspective is a sure way to invite creativity. Listening to others is an exciting skill to practice and is often accompanied by surprises and unexpected treasures.
3. STAY AWARE:
Keep an open mind and wide eyes. There is beauty in the unexpected, the expected, the mundane, the everyday. What changes in the routine is your perspective and presence in that moment.
4. Say “Yes”:
In improv class, the primary practice is saying, “Yes, let’s! And…” By accepting what is, there is no way around it. Accept the current reality and then contribute to it. The opposite of saying yes is blocking in which you say “no”, “but”, or “actually”; putting others down for the sake of one’s own ego kills the energy and allows for minimal progress and inspiration to occur. Practice saying yes, reciprocate, and discover.
5. Clean out the closets:
Whether Spring arrives or not doesn’t need to determine a full overhaul clean-out. If you’ve been looking at the same stuff for too long or are surrounded by what does not inspire you, find a way to detach yourself from the responsibility of ownership. Donate clothes, books, furniture, office supplies, toiletries, etc to a local charity//shelter/rehabilitation center. Libraries love donations. Consider setting up an online shop that allow you to recycle/sell/trade your clothes for new things. Host a Naked Ladies’ Party (or any variation you choose) in which everyone brings clothes/accessories to swap; they all go in a pile in the middle of the room, and y’all go to town, trading clothes. Set up mirrors, turn up the tunes, set out some snacks (maybe some champagne..) and make it a party. Out with the old, in with the new (to you). The power of giving cannot be underestimated; it feels good to help others, and it feels good to downsize when there’s excess baggage.
If downsizing is not in your realm of possibilities, try rearranging what you already have. See if something has a multiple purpose that can be utilized. This often leads to a cascade effect and opens your mind to seeing things in a different way. When I need to refresh, I often rearrange my furniture- turning bookshelves on their sides, focusing the attention on a different feature in the room, moving the placement of art. By literally turning your world on its side, sometimes the pieces settle into place organically. Stack your books horizontally instead of vertically, arrange them by color, date, size, alphabetically. Often a large stack of books makes a great side table. Just think of your pieces differently. (See: Think outside of your box)
6. Consider Cannabis:
With many states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, it is an exciting time to expand your mental horizons if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. Many individuals feel more creative while using cannabis and may be a nice option to consider if feeling particularly mentally congested.
7. You are 1 in 300,000,000,000:
I first heard Mel Robbins (TEDx Talk in 2011 https://youtu.be/Lp7E973zozc) discuss that the likelihood of another person being born with your specific genetic history to your particular parents in this particular moment in time is one in four hundred trillion (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/787114-scientists-calculate-the-probability-of-your-existence/). That’s 1 in 400,000,000,000,000, y’all. You’re as rare as they come. Find empowerment in your uniqueness and feel confident in your individual thoughts, perspectives, and opinions. Surround yourself with others that encourage you, support your strengths, and don’t put you down. Find groups or communities that resonate with your values and beliefs.
8. When inspired, do:
The best way to live more creatively, is to act. Do something the second you are inspired. Even if that act is simply jotting down a quick note (in your phone or on paper) about your inspiration, the act of writing it down is still an action, and one action leads to another. The next time you want to revisit that idea, you’ll already be one step into the process, making the next step more available and easier to progress. Do something, immediately.