How to Create a Radically Different Day


in Creativity,Personal Growth

During the course of a day, you make thousands of tiny decisions. To put butter on your toast or not. To get on the treadmill or not. To do the piece of work you’ve been putting off or not.

Invariably, you follow the course of your inner guidance system – the one that’s got a fairly rigid idea of what you should do, what you should like, what you should want, what you should think, and what your day should look like.

To some extent, that guidance system is in place to get you through the day with ease and to help cut down on the number of decisions you need to make. For example, bran muffins are healthy for you and easy to have for breakfast – so that’s what you eat. Decision made.

Those decisions, made according to your shoulds (and often in your very best interests), end up creating routines.

Those routines create practically the same days with virtually the same outcomes.

Not too playful or especially interesting.

But what if you were interested in creating a different experience? A different day?

It’s possible – playfully.

In theater, there is a form of acting known as improvisation. The actors take their cues from suggestions made by the audience and spontaneously develop dialogues, scenes, and stories – entire plays – based on those suggestions.

In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the improvisers involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation. With each spoken word or action in the scene, an improviser makes an offer, meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other improvisers to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, negation, or denial, which usually prevents the scene from developing. ~ Wikipedia

Most of us are resistant to suggestions as a matter of course. It takes too much time to consider the new idea or way of doing things. We know best. It would mess with our routines.  We don’t know what the results might be.

So we block the suggestions.

But what if you chose not to?

What would your day look like if you simply followed the suggestions that came your way? If you played along with what life offered?

  • Ordered the seared tuna recommended by the waiter instead of your usual salad with dressing on the side.
  • Listened carefully to a colleague’s idea around a challenging issue instead of discarding his suggestion immediately because you think he’s an idiot.
  • Acted on a loved one’s hint about the toilet seat instead of ignoring it.
  • Delighted a customer by responding to a problem immediately instead of saying you’ll have to check with your boss.
  • Bought the blue sweater the sales person tells you is a knock-out even though the black one seems more prudent.
  • Moved the couch to the other side of the room when your mom says it would look so much better there even though you disagree.
  • Went to get ice cream with a friend in the middle of the afternoon, for no particular reason, because you were invited instead of instead of staying home and cleaning the kitchen.

Imagine the new scenes and dialogue you might create, not only within yourself, but in your relationships with others as well.

If it seems too, too much to actually act on these kinds of things, what if you just kept track? What if you just wrote down all suggestions you hear during the course of day?

You might be surprised by all the possibilities trying to get your attention on any given day – simply begging you to create a radically different day.

Harness the energy of co-creation, embrace those little suggestions, and find out what playful things life has in store for you.

Are you ready to play?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronna March 26, 2012 at

I. Love. This.

And…a bit narcissistically…am glad I was able to pull you away from kitchen-cleaning yesterday for the respite of ice cream.

This is a fabulous post, Andrea; but more, a fabulous representation of you – what you live by, what you offer, what you long for on others’ behalf.

Did I mention that I love this?
Ronna recently posted..if god was a woman


Andrea Olson March 27, 2012 at

Thanks, Ronna – for the validation (and the ice cream)! :)


Sue Mitchell March 26, 2012 at

I love it too! You are so right about our routines, and it does us such good to shake them up. Also to consider other people’s ideas instead of dismissing them out of hand. I will definitely be doing this experiment!
Sue Mitchell recently posted..When Not Working is Part of the Work


Andrea Olson March 27, 2012 at

It’s such a fun experiment … especially when you start listening for the suggestions. Have fun, Sue, and thanks!


Lorrie Jones March 26, 2012 at

I am ready to play! I just landed in Boston, from Seattle, and I decided to follow my instincts tomorrow – a day early before the Center for Mindfulness Scientific Conference – and go into Boston…see some art, go to the Boston Commons (my first memory at age 2) and head to the North end for some Italian…Thank you, Andrea, for this validation: I’m on my way! Whew – feel a bit like I do when I get on a swing with my grandkids:)


Andrea Olson March 27, 2012 at

Awesome, Lorrie! Enjoy. :)

Reply March 29, 2012 at

Love the improvisation analogy. Realizing I allow for a lot of improvisation in some areas, but almost none in others. And, most of my unhappiness/frustration comes when things don’t go according to plan. A nice reminder that sometimes what we don’t plan is much richer than the things we do. recently posted..Break!


Andrea Olson March 29, 2012 at

Thanks, Rita! Sometimes we don’t “plan” big enough for ourselves and life has a way of nudging us with little suggestions in hopes of expanding our outlook. Rich indeed!


Jackie Walker March 29, 2012 at

d’you know I wish more people would make suggestions to me so I could improvise more, what a fun and spontaneous life it would be! Just this week, on Twitter I was flagged by one friend to one of hers saying d’you know Jackie she lives somewhere near Edinburgh, maybe you could meet her. And I cancelled an appointment and went to a launch she was having. Time will tell, but I have a feeling it might be the most effective improvised decision I’ve ever made!
Jackie Walker recently posted..Reason to Love Yourself #8 – You Belong at Home


Andrea Olson March 29, 2012 at

I love that story, Jackie! Thank you for sharing it. Let no suggestion be denied … you never know what might happen. :)


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