Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Power of Spontaneity

I have had some of the best times in my life through practicing intentional spontaneity.  When I traveled to New Zealand and Australia, I left the US with no plans except my plane tickets and a reservation at a youth hostel for my first night in Auckland and my first two nights in Sydney.  Those two weeks remain the most adrenalin filled of any in my life.  Similarly, when my dad and I traveled on our 30-day trip across the US a couple years ago, we made plans each morning for where we would go that day and how far we would drive.  By not having a specific agenda, we got to see far more of the country and make much better progress than we would have otherwise.  (We drove 11,000 miles and saw 28 states in 30 days.)

It looks like I am not the only one who values spontaneity:

Being open to change can be a good thing. Being spontaneous as a person is defined as:

“Spontaneous- Of a person having an open, natural, and uninhabited manner”

Being spontaneous can give you some relaxed and uninhabited qualities, because no matter what happens next, you can deal with it. This is an incredible trait to have in life.

Aside from the whole mind-like-water mentality, spontaneity has some other added benefits:

  1. Keeps your mind sharp as a tack. Yep, if you sprinkle in a few daily doses of impulsive activities, your mind is sure to be on top of its game. Having unknowns in your schedule and being OK with that can force you to really focus on what’s at hand.
  2. Less Stress. Let’s face it: The better you are at coping with unknown situations, the less stress you’ll accrue throughout the day.
  3. Gets you out of the dooldrums. Feeling like the only exciting part of your day is having another glass of OJ with your bran in the morning? Do something completely unexpected. Shake things up a bit. Blow off work, if you need to. The spur-of-the-moment has a strange ability to lift a funk.

Like any good quality or reflex, spontaneity has to be practiced. There are lots of variables in our every day life that we can’t control. The power going out. Snagging a nasty cold. The neighbors dog barking all. day. long. We won’t  able to give up control of these unknowns, but learning to be a little more flexible sure can help your outlook. That’s where being spontaneous can really help us...

If one can practice disciplined spontaneity, they will start to see the benefits of being a more flexible person in general. It’s like my dad always said:

Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.

Follow the link for advice on how to intentionally cultivate the practice of spontaneity in your own life.

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