Trying Not to Try: the Power of Spontaneity | Edward Slingerland | TEDxMaastricht
How to Be Spontaneous
Do you ever feel like every day just repeats itself, going into the future? If you're feeling stuck in a rut, you can learn to shake yourself out of it. Learn how to free up your time from your rigid schedule, and introduce a little more spontaneity into your life.
Freeing Your Time
Stop planning every minute your life.Spontaneity is best achieved when you have no pre-conceived goal or ending in mind for a given experience. If you want to be more spontaneous, make it easier on yourself by giving yourself less of a script. There are no rules to living your life.
- Heading to the beach for a fun day with your friends? There's no need to plan it out by the minute. What will you eat? Who will drive? What will you wear? Worry about each thing as it comes. Don't worry about planning out every single detail of an experience.
Eliminate needless responsibilities from your life.In order to be more spontaneous, you need to have time on your hands to be able to do things on a whim. You can start my looking at your daily routine and cutting everything away from it that you don't need. People, responsibilities, and activities in your life that aren't important? Cut them out.
- Try to think about everything you usually do, even if you can't cut it out of your routine. Writing it all down can help you remember and visualise your timetable, if it is very busy.
- Obviously, if you have a hobby, activity or club that you really enjoy, its probably not a good idea to quit it. Use common sense to decide what can be cut away.
Try to figure out what you like, and what you are like.Imagine your ideal day, a totally free day that you've got to do whatever you want. What would it involve? Heading to the beach and taking a dip? Playing basketball with your friends? Relaxing with a good book and a cool drink on your porch? Playing guitar on stage? Imagine your ideal life.
- What brings you happiness in the world? What were the times in your life that you remember being totally happy, or totally relaxed? Try to keep those memories at the front of your mind, and make them a priority in your life.
Figure out what's getting in your own way.What's keeping you from living the spontaneous life that you might want to live? Are you scared of putting yourself out there? Do you work in a job that keeps you locked into a computer or an office, and doesn't give you the free time you desire? Are you stuck in a dead-end relationship?
- When you figure out what's keeping you from living the way you want to live, Try to make a change. Whatever it is that's keeping you from being spontaneous, cut it from your life.
Keep your free time and your work time separate.If you organize your time effectively, you have and finish your work in the time you have devoted to work time. Try to remake your routine so that you have at least one day a week with no appointments or commitments. This is great for being spontaneous as you can wake up in the morning and decide on something you want to do for the day based on a whim.
- Most people have to have some kind of schedule for their day. Even if you want to be spontaneous, it's important to have some idea of what you'll be doing when you wake up, or you may just suffer from indecision.
Make your own decisions.Who is in charge of your own life? Too often, we just let our friends make the call and be the deciders. If you're always turning it over to the group to make your plans for you, that might be because your'e "easy going," but it might also be because you're letting others make your decisions for you. Let yourself have opinions and grab onto them.
- Try an experiment. Instead of "going with the flow," voice a strong opinion next time you're trying to come to a decision as a group. Even if you don't really care where you meet friends for dinner, try picking a place and standing up for it. It might feel good.
- At the same time, going with the flow is an important part of being spontaneous. Try not to get too hung up on little decisions.
Opening Up to Whim
Meet new people.Tired of your regular old crew? If you need a change, try hanging out with lots of different kinds of people and meeting as many as possible. Don't just find one social group to associate with, but move between lots of different groups to give yourself a wide social net.
- If you go to school, don't just hang out with people in your classes. Try sitting new new people every day at lunch. Make friends with some jocks, some geeky kids, and some arty kids. Have lots of friends.
- Every time you go out, think of it as an opportunity to meet people and make potentially life-changing friends. Don't just "stand in line" at the DMV, chat up your neighbors and find out what their lives are like. Reach out.
Try something you think you might not like.Mystery can be intimidating. If you've never tried a particular dish, or never visited a particular place, those things can seem scary. But once you start exploring, you might even start to hunger for more and newer activities.
- Try a new dish out once a week. Cook something from a cookbook that requires ingredients you've never heard of, or head to a restaurant that you've never eaten at before. Just try it.
- Try an activity, hobby, book, or movie that you're not sure you're crazy about. Explore something strange or complicated for fun. You may even like it.
Just say "yes" more.Do you want to try sushi? Do you want to go to a baseball game? Do you want to take swimming lessons? Why not! Sure! Absolutely! If you're presented with an opportunity, too often we find reasons to say "no." If something seems like a great, or fun chance, try to figure out a way to make it work, even if you're not sure it will fit in with your schedule or your plans.
- You don't have to agree to things that you don't want to do, or that you don't like, but it's a good idea to be open-minded enough to give something a try.
Put your phone away.Want to open yourself up to more spontaneous experiences? Pull your head out of your mobile and look around some. Too often, we're locked in on our e-mail when we're out for a walk, or are neck deep into some podcast when we're commuting. Just be where you are and be doing what you're doing. Stop multitasking and put your phone away.
- If you feel like you're really attached to your phone, just try putting it on silent. You've got voicemail, and people will be able to leave you a message if there's an emergency.
- Turn off all but your most important alerts. Does your phone really need to beep if someone messages you on Facebook? Or if someone retweets you?
Change your route ever day.Do you have you life on autopilot? Switch it up. You can decide to walk or drive a different way to work or wherever else you have to go today. Even if it takes you five minutes longer one way, what's the difference? Enjoy the new route or method of travel as much as possible.
- Do you usually drive? Try taking public transportation, or riding your bicycle. Explore different ways of getting where you need to be.
Aim for one new thing each day.You can decide on the spot what you want to have for tea. You can decide that you want to watch a new film or even go to the cinema on a worknight/schoolnight, just making sure you don't get to bed too late.
- Pick back up on the things that you like to develop new hobbies. Find out the you really like reading comic books? Keep up with it.
Make sensible spontaneous decisions.Being spontaneous doesn't give you the license to do reckless or dangerous things. Being spontaneous isn't an excuse for abusing alcohol, drugs, or tobacco products. Make smart and informed decisions if you want to be in control of your spontaneous life.
- People may pick on you.
- Don't act this way too much in public - you may get arrested.
- You could lose some friends.
- If you go mad, or get arrested, it's not my fault you were careless!
Sources and Citations
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