Humans are creatures of habit. Nothing wrong with that, but I strongly believe it helps to be more spontaneous, every now and then. I couldn’t care less about people judging me as boring or rigid, but I care a lot about my well-being, mental health, relations and staying young for as long as it’s possible (not following Cher’s footsteps, however). All those things come apparently with being more spontaneous and allowing yourself a bit of a mental awakening. Becoming spontaneous is a process – often combined with almost a therapeutic approach aimed at breaking down the walls of own habit, convictions and fears. Yes indeed, humans are a creatures of habit – this has helped us for centuries to form a predictable, I daresay boring lifestyles. I have learned however that the unpredictable comes our way either way so it’s good to shake up the system every now and then and stay alert – gorgeously spontaneous.
1. Reality Check – Can I be more spontaneous?
We are very poor judges when it comes to deciding whether we are in fact spontaneous or not. Actually the most common attribution mistake is that we all tend to think we are above average. Hello? The whole idea of THE AVERAGE states that there must be some of us below. When I surveyed people most concluded they are rather spontaneous. It may surely be so, but it is much healthier to simply reach out for a external opinion than relying on our own. Just ask your friends if they think you are too predictable. It might be awkward to ask, but listen to them. The people who know you well are in a better position to give you this information, and they might see some areas where you can improve that you might not consider yourself. And ask for honest answers – it is about being honest not blunt. If the feedback is negative, it’s not the end of the world. You can start being more spontaneous there and then.
2. Let go of your false limiting beliefs
We all carry around our beliefs. We’ve started picking them up since day one and hold onto them like they are worth a fortune. Some beliefs are not harmful at all – if you believe that it’s great to be open-minded I can’t come up with a reason why you should change that. The problem starts when your beliefs turn into a negative obstacle that stops you from seeing and exploring the world. If you think it is “weird” to talk to a stranger, or that you’ll mess up if you try to do something differently, there! You have a limiting belief. Find these beliefs and then remove them. All at once! …Joking… Start with simple steps. Every time a belief stops you from doing something try to think where that one comes from. Was it acquired in the process of education? Is it something in your culture? Or maybe some time ago someone simply hurt you and thus you formed a belief everyone is the same. Traveling is a great way to question some of your limiting beliefs and stereotypes you have formed throughout your entire life. It’s also a great way to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
3. Step back in time and see the world differently
It may sound a bit like a cliche, but I truly believe that learning from the young ones is a great thing. Just take a moment and observe how they perceive the world. They maintain mental space for being curious, surprised and amazed. They don’t expect things to be, they just watch them be. Children are endlessly curious, and you should be too. You may have much more experience than a 5-year-old child, but there is still a lot of stuff that you don’t know. The only way to develop new insights is by trying new things regularly, much like a child who thrusts himself into the unknown.
4. Stop wasting time and be more spontaneous
I have never met a person complaining about having too much time. Yet when I observe myself and others I realise how much time we waste on things that don’t enrich us in any form. Social media buzz, television, stupefying shows – all that is tempting as it offers a bit of an alpha state of mind relaxation, but the truth is it simply turns us into something we clearly do not want to be. Things like TV and mindless Internet surfing eat up huge chunks of our time. They give you an excuse to be lazy instead of spontaneous. When you don’t rely on these crutches, it becomes much easier to act more carefree. Try to stop this – not entirely but maybe give yourself time off. Traveling again may be a great time to detox from all that media and internet bedlam.
5. Waiting for the perfect time
One thing I have noticed about us – people of the western culture is that we seem to constantly postpone fun and good things as if we were waiting for the perfect time just after we finish that job, after we redecorated, after we graduated, after this and that… Stop waiting for the perfect time for spontaneity to take hold. If there is something that you want to do, the best time to do it is now. For example, if it’s raining and you want to dance, don’t let the presence of other people stop you. The rain may have stopped by then! If you feel you want to go and see Venice – go and see it! It truly may be too late quite soon.
6. The time to be more spontaneous is now
Becoming a spontaneous person is not easy, especially if you’ve been conditioned to be a boring person for many years and stay within the lines. And let’s face it – our culture may superficially encourage us to be free, but as a matter of fact it enslaves us with consumerism and materialistic illusions of a “good life”. But you can change if that’s your wish. It takes time, obviously. The results however are worth trying. You can start with simple steps. The first one was obviously a “spontaneity assessment”. Follow it with a simple gestures. Like actually following your very instinct. You want to dance – dance! You want to kiss that girl – kiss her! You’ve wanted to dye your hair hot pink – do it! These are just simple things but it’s something for a start.
7. Examine your travel dreams
Traveling is an amazing thing. Sometimes it is worth examining however your past destination choices and see if they were truly your dreams or rather a safe choices. I am not saying you have to act against your nature. I am rather encouraging you to think if maybe you truly wanted to travel solo, yet for some reasons you always choose to travel in groups just because you’ve been taught to believe that traveling solo is for losers. Maybe you’ve always traveled to exotic countries while deep down inside you were tempted by harsh northern beauty of Scandinavia. Sometimes even when we travel we tend to fulfil other people’s expectations neglecting our needs. Decide on your next journey and be spontaneous about it. Even if your friends will think you’re crazy.
8. You don’t need to go far
Traveling is one thing but actually creating a habit of getting lost for a reason is another. You probably don’t have to go too far from where you live currently to find a street you’ve never walked, a town you haven’t explored, or a trail you haven’t hiked. Check out a new place and see what you have been missing. Then you can use that skill when you travel.
9. Talk to strangers and do things that scare you the most
We’ve been evolutionally conditioned to perceive strangers as a source of danger. Obviously for a reason. However, it definitely is less likely to be attacked by a stranger just because you want to talk to one. Does somebody look interesting to you? Go up to them and start a conversation. I know this can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, go ahead and take a step in their direction. It’s not as “scary” as introducing yourself or initiating a conversation, but it does help build momentum. In fact, I often start talking to someone who interests me once I take that first step. And when you travel this can become your most amazing skill as you can meet amazing people who will teach you a lot about the country and its culture. Being spontaneous very often involves regularly stepping out of your comfort zone. Talking to strangers, taking a solo trip, trying out new things that scare you to the gut. So what! Be more than that, act and move ahead in spite of your fears. I used to be afraid of heights, but one day I had to climb the mast of a tall ship and dangle from it 36 meters above the ship’s deck. That was a rather extreme behavioural exposition, but it surely helped. Try to do things you fear – I say they are the most exciting ones.
Becoming more spontaneous doesn’t mean putting an end to long-term thinking or planning. Ideally, you should be able to create a plan, execute it, and then deviate from it whenever you wish. Planning is not the enemy. Instead, the culprit is fear. So, begin living a life where fear does not hold you back. You’ll soon get into the habit of becoming more spontaneous. And when you travel you can put those new spontaneous attitudes to the test and see how they work beautifully! Go ahead!
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