Welcome to One Word Suggestion.
Most people think improv is just for comedy or jazz music. But, really, it’s a tool for life. For each article in this series I use a single word, suggested by you, as a leaping off point to explore how having an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level, both personally and professionally, whether you have a career on or off the stage.
One Word Suggestion: Mindfulness
Take a second and look up from whatever you’re doing right now. Is everyone around you staring down at their phones? Were you?
Unless everyone is using Headspace or one of the many other meditation apps, chances are they’re being anything but mindful. More likely they are all filling their brains with clickbait headlines, pictures of people showing off the glossiest version of their lives, and an endless scroll of meaninglessness.
There’s more computing power in most phones today than was used to run the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And what do we use that awesome power for? Levelling up on Candy Crush and willfully ignoring the world around us, and ourselves.
People have become so preoccupied with their phones they not only become less mindful, they become dangerously mindless – easily manipulated by algorithms and fake news – and so lost in their heads that they can’t even drive or walk across the street safely.
Pedestrian deaths are on the rise and cities are now installing street-level red lights at intersections so people who can’t seem to look up, can see indicators down by their feet that say “stop.”
So you could argue that our collective mindfulness is at an all-time low.
And as powerful and amazing as your shiny new phone may be, the truly amazing computer and the one we all need to start paying more attention to is the one between our ears.
According to Robin Sharma who wrote The 5 am Club, “phones are costing you your fortune. You need to get away from the world if you want to change it, or even just change yourself.”
Part of the problem is that most people have not yet learned to be comfortable with themselves. Or with silence. Because it’s in the quiet moments when you start to realize what’s going on in your mind, and for many people, this can be very confronting. So they numb out with a TV that’s always on in the background at home, or the radio in the car, and by staring at their phones everywhere else.
But here’s the thing: the present moment is where everything happens, the past and future only exist as noise that should, for the most part, be tuned out. So how do you fight the algorithms of phone apps and social media that have been specifically designed to steal your energy and life force?
Learning to get comfortable with silence, and quiet our minds is the key. Meditation can help. Walks in nature can help. Long showers can help. In fact, lots of things besides turning off your phone can help. Including improv.
One of the many great skills improv training gives you is becoming consciously aware of thoughts, feelings and environments – and not just your own. Everyone’s. Improv also teaches you that if you ever get stuck in life or on stage, all you have to do is connect to the present moment and the people around you and the answers will come.
In previous episodes, I spoke about Focus and Editing, which also have a role to play in mindfulness, so I invite you to check those out if you haven’t already.
And in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this little trick I learned from a monk who taught me it’s possible to practice mindfulness every day. The goal is to start small and eventually train yourself to be conscious of every decision and action you make.
Being in the present moment is the key, and the trick involves identifying a task, something you do frequently (that’s not on a phone or a computer) and treating it as mindful meditation. The only job is to do the job with complete focus and without letting any other thoughts or distractions get in the way.
For me, it’s doing the dishes. So whenever I’m standing at the sink, soapy sponge in hand and my thoughts are running wild, I ask myself, are you doing the dishes?
Or are you doing. the. dishes?
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or in a review. I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz.
Or better yet, listen to the podcast.
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team.
You can learn all about PowerProv’s programs at powerprov.com.au
About One Word Suggestion
The One Word Suggestion series is your personal toolbox full of ways to help you use the power of improvisation to craft a more mindful and meaningful existence. Available as articles, a podcast, and soon, a book filled with powerful exercises for teams.
The One Word Suggestion Podcast with Eran Thomson
In each 3-minute episode, Eran uses a single word, suggested by listeners, as a leaping off point to explore how developing an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level personally and professionally.
Whether you aspire to be better on stage or on the job, this quick hit of improv inspiration is sure to bring you some insights, perspective, and joy.
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