Spontaneity keeps life from being too predictable.
My life is a mix of the predictable and unpredictable.
The predictable part of my life allows me to function from day-to-day. It’s how I get my work done, keep myself healthy, and manage my expenses. The predictable actions are the ones I plan in advance. These actions are rarely interesting, but they are necessary.
The unpredictable in my life is, by definition, the exact opposite of the predictable. It’s the chaos that weaves its way into life, throwing plans out the window. It’s the amazing highs and the terrifying lows I can’t anticipate. Within the unpredictable events, I find a mix of fears, triumphs, and vibrant memories.
I want more of my life to be unpredictable. I look forward to being more spontaneous.
The more I experience life and its events, the more I begin to appreciate everything that occurs without long sessions of planning.
Maybe it’s the result of my youth. It could also be a rebellion against the feeling of living a largely sheltered life.
Whatever the cause may be, my heart has set its sights on a life of less planning and more living. I’ve spent much of my life in mental rehearsal of intense worries and amazing dreams. Over-thinking each event as I dampen the emotions any experience might bring.
Spontaneity Puts Me on the Edge of My Seat
You know those moments when you’re swept up in the things around you and you hang on to each passing second with curiosity and anticipation? I love those moments, but they usually arise when I least expect them.
A few years ago, I went to Myrtle Beach for the first time. I was looking forward to the sun, the warm weather, and the baseball games our team was playing that week. These were all very enjoyable, but the thing that struck the most whole we were there was the ocean. We arrived at our beachside rental as the ocean waves crashed against the shore with a strength I hadn’t considered at all before that moment. It caught me completely off-guard as I stood there amazed.
I have to make a concentrated effort to allow more moments like these into my life because it’s too easy to over-plan each detail and overlook the little surprises around us each day.
I often pre-plan conversations, trying to identify what the other person will say and how I will respond. I also close myself off way too often because I’m afraid of getting into an uncomfortable situation.
These actions are attempts to manage my fears and insecurities, but in the end, they often hurt my happiness more than they create a sense of comfort. Over-planning conversations and events in this way can sometimes make life easier, but it also makes life less enjoyable.
Spontaneity Opens the Door for Others
When we’re spontaneous, we become more approachable.
I have often considered starting a conversation with a stranger, but I have rarely followed through on my idea. The truth is: I’m afraid. I’m afraid they won’t want to talk. I’m afraid I won’t know what to say. I hope the interaction goes somewhere I could never predict, but that hope is also a source of my fear.
Deep down, I know I want more unpredictability in my life. I want to have unique moments each day that create a sense of curiosity and wonder. Yet, when I get the chance to do something spontaneous, I often find myself defaulting to the predictable action. I let myself down in these moments but I’m not prepared to stop fighting.
Predictability Can Be a Convenience for Society
Just as I fall back on the things I can expect, I see it happen all around me too.
People like to know what to expect from their day and the people around them. There is a certain safety in the consistency of our daily actions. Both consciously and unconsciously we create boxes to label ourselves and others. We then use these boxes to describe thoughts and actions, because it’s easier to have an explanation for the things that happen. Having an explanation lets us ignore the unpredictable elements of our world. An explanation might silence our worries or provide us with information to plan out our future.
We all need a certain level of predictability in our lives. A world without some level of predictability would be complete chaos and unlivable. Unfortunately, many people, like myself, have begun to use predictability as a security blanket to fend off fears. As we avoid most of our fears, many of us also avoid living the life we want.
Spontaneity Requires Vulnerability
As I’ve alluded to, being open to and accepting spontaneity isn’t always easy. There are many times when it’s less scary and requires less mental energy to follow a predictable route we’ve created for ourselves. If we decide we want more spontaneity in our lives, we have to be willing to relax some of the guards we usually put up to separate ourselves from the world around us. In other words, we have to willing to feel vulnerable.
Predictability is the antidote to our worst fears. By following a predictable route, we minimize the chances of anything we don’t want to happen. Creating the amazing experiences associated with spontaneity begins with accepting the possibilities of being seen, getting rejected, and feeling upset or embarrassed. To create the greatest experiences of our lives, we have to risk the possibility of going through some difficult experiences.
In the end, I believe this is a small price to pay. In all my experiences, I’ve found the highs and lows to be more meaningful over the long run. Every difficult challenge has taught me something about myself which I believe has made me a better person. I believe most challenges may cause a few months of hardship, but they often allow me to be happier once I’ve successfully dealt with them.
What Would a Spontaneous World Look Like?
I think it’s important to consider what a spontaneous world could look like. Everyone will likely have different answers for the forms of spontaneity they would like to see in the world. Here are a few I’m trying to cultivate in myself:
- Explore new directions for conversations. Don’t plan them out beforehand and be okay with not knowing how to respond.
- Only create goals for things that are important. Don’t go to an event with the goal of talking to everyone or getting everyone to like you.
- Acknowledge judgments made beforehand, but don’t give them as much weight. Sometimes, the greatest friendships are made with people you don’t think you could ever be friends with.
- Follow through on more of the small ideas that arise, even if they seem like they might be inconsequential.
- Be open to the spontaneity of others. It could create an interesting and informative experience, a great memory, or a funny story.
How might spontaneity improve your daily life?