#2 Getting it Right
Last week I spent an intensive week doing a Showstoppers work shop on Musical Improv. Improv generally works by you taking a word from the audience and from that single word you create scenes, relationships, emotions and places. With musical Improv when the energy or emotion of a scene gets too big to talk about, you start singing. Time and again the people taking the course would stop and ask, “Am I doing it right?”. The incredible teachers would always respond, “It’s Improv, you can’t do anything wrong, whatever you do is right.” 30 minutes later the same person, at the end of a scene, might collapse head in hands saying, “I did it all wrong.”
These thoughts are mirrored 100% in our normal lives trying to get this crazy thing we call life right. “I’m 30, I should be having kids” or “It’s 9am I should be at work” or “Look at what he is wearing” or “I don’t belong here”. There are so many things we think are the RIGHT things. It leads to anxiety and fear – neither of which are that good for us Homo Sapiens. Maybe we need to bring a bit of Improv into our lives too? Pippa Evans runs a course “Improv your Life” – using the skills of improv to improve your life. It’s quite brilliant.
Our brains have two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is shown to be logical, analytic, quantitative and rational, whereas the right hemisphere is conceptual, holistic and imaginative. Improv requires you to use both sides equally.
As young kids we spend loads of time playing and using our right hemisphere to create wonderful scenes creating imaginary worlds, people and relationships – in playing our left brain mops up useful lessons to be stored and used when appropriate. Children are the greatest improvisors. They have idea after idea and will play together and accept and respond to each others ideas.
Then we start school.
In those hugely important school years we are told whether we are right or wrong with not a lot in between. Paris is the capital of France. 1 + 1 = 2. The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. Any other offers are rejected and we’re told they are wrong. In an extremely malleable mind, that causes us to slowly turn off the right hemisphere; the creativity, whilst focusing on the things we know definitively. It makes sense, we don’t want to get it wrong and get in trouble.
This all means that adults starting Improv begin the process by having to unpick years and years of right and wrong. This leads to them accepting who they and how others relate to them. Then eventually learning to fully embrace offers from others AND yourself. Seeing 6 adults fully embrace the fact that they are part of The Royal Guard and are forbidden from asking questions is hilarious whether or not they manage to find any jokes or are singing in tune.
1 + 1 equals 2. Is a statement made up by man in a language made up by man. It’s a story we all believe to be right. Whilst studying Pure Maths at University, we proved loads of amazing things by assuming 1 + 1 = 3. But what if 1 + 1 equaled a banana. Or 1 + 1 equaled a small, bald man with a purple bowler hat and a penchant for biting peoples knees? Imagine what we could prove then, and the fun we’d have doing it!
Maybe next time you find yourself criticising yourself for a word or an action you could stop and push your chest out, roll back your shoulders. Then tell yourself, “It’s what I came out with at the time, and that’s OK”. Or if you’re rejecting another’s point of view or way of being, why not accept that point of view as an offer, play with it, see the chink of rainbow, and see where it leads you. At worst it might put a smile on the other person’s face, and next week I’ll be writing how utterly powerful that can be!
I promised myself on the 31st of December that I was going to write a blog post every week about happiness. I mainly want to do it for my own personal wellbeing (seeing things written down is always good for making sure they last for more than a second in my goldfish brain) but if they are interesting or can help other people then that’s super groovy.
52 weeks means 52 different ways I coax/trick/apply my mind to getting that little zing of happiness emanating from my face.