This entry begins with a question – “what is the most effective way one can improve their life?”

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had an answer. A few simple but life-changing techniques that turn stagnant situations into ones that grow and live. All that is required, is a little bit of improv.

Last month I enrolled in the Spontaneity improv class with VancouverTheatreSports #VTSL.

I am new to the city, and wanted to take a chance on something outside of my comfort-zone. I hoped (and heard) the 4-week course would improve my quick-thinking and public speaking skills at work. I never expected the class would improve my life.

Offers & Accepting
Commitment & Confidence
Lateral Thinking, Free Association, Spontaneity

Above are the top 4 techniques I found to be the most useful and inspiring from the class. Below are those techniques defined, and how to apply them in everyday life.

Listening: Are you (yes YOU) listening!? Please make sure you are, as this is the 1st technique and the basis for the others that follow. The ‘simple’ task of listening is an extremely challenging one. For many of us, our words and thoughts go 1000 miles/minute. We devise our response before the other person has finished speaking. We’re not listening!

In this class we were forced to bring awareness to our interruptions. When we weren’t consciously listening, our improv scenes suffered. To help solve this, we were taught the Rule of 3 aka waiting 3-painstakingly slow Mississippi’s before uttering a response. This.is.not.easy! But who said improving your life was.

The Rule of 3 allowed us to become intentional in our responses. It required us to hear and to let others be heard.And that is powerful!

Offers & Accepting: This was the class of “YES and …”
… and YES – it was probably my favourite of the 4!

Tina Fey said it best, “Start with a YES AND see where that takes you.” Too often in life we say NO.  NO to opportunities. NO to nights out. NO for the sake of saying no. There always seems to be an excuse. The question that was posed in this class, however, was …

… what would happen if we just started saying YES?

We put the theory into practice. Someone would present an offer to their partner – it could be a totally absurd suggestion (and it usually was). Our goal was to build on what was said by taking their suggestion and enhancing. The principle behind this rule was that by saying ‘yes and’ you allow the situation to grow and live. It never dies. When you say NO, there is nowhere to go.

There was a time in my life when I tried this (before I knew it was a rule). I lived in London, England years’ back, and I remember making a deal with myself. The deal was to say yes to everything! It was the way I was going to take advantage of my 2 years’ in London. 

My life was unlike anything it was before. It was vibrant, I took chances, and the minute I got home, I forgot the feeling and freedom that came from saying YES … by saying no. This class helped me to remember.

Commitment and Confidence: Week 3 was about being confident in your  decisions. Have you ever said something you instantly regretted? This class told the past you to shove-it and live in the present! Embrace that spontaneous blabber.

The techniques we learnt in the previous weeks meant that all would be accepted by our peers. Now it was about US getting super confident with ourselves. This meant committing to what we said with confidence, and making sure our body language was showcasing our dialogue with pride.

The confidence of body language is HUGE. It makes a major difference in how we are seen by others, but more importantly how we view ourselves.

Lateral Thinking, Free Association, Spontaneity: We ended the course going back to basics; learning our ABC’s (Always Be Charming).

I found it interesting how easily and habitually we can turn an unknown situation into a negative one, when it could just as easily be positive. The change from negative to positive comes with the connotation we choose to give to it. The rationale behind ABC is that the audience responds better when you are charming (and so do the people in our lives)

In this class we were solving problems in a positive, and creative way by applying the strategies we learnt in the preceding weeks.

All-in-all it’s important for us to think back to the times we find ourselves saying ‘oh no’ when we should be saying #hell Yes (or YES AND …)

Those times when we put down someone’s idea, but  could be doing everything in our power to make them look freaken’ awesome! Those moments when we talk-at VS. listen-to someone.

It was incredible to see how a 4-week improv course aimed at bringing awareness to simple but crucial techniques could be directly applied to everyday life – and improve it for the better.

If you’re going to remember only one thing from this entry, remember this: when you wake up in the morning – what scenario would you like to create and live, and what techniques could you use to get you there more effectively.

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