“If you are always trying to be normal,
you will never know how amazing you can be.”– Maya Angelou
BEing spontaneous is one of my very favorite things to “do”, but what does it actually mean to “BE” spontaneous? I mean, how wonderful is it that once we’ve grown and matured, to indulge in BEing totally carefree in the moment! To some, though, the notion of spontaneity carries the idea of negative, thoughtless, irresponsible behavior. There are many other specific words to describe reckless behavior, however, I must admit that we’ve adopted the general notion of acting “spontaneously” as inconsiderate behavior.
One of the greatest freedoms one can enjoy on daily basis is adding a dose of spontaneity to daily life. This is what I enjoy most about my life at this ripe mature age. I love engaging with life every day in a way that is inspiring and nurturing with my sense of well-being and letting myself experience spontaneous things that simply make me happy, and that augment my fullness of living … I think I’ll keep it up all the way to the end!
I wanted to write about BEing spontaneous as I think it has value and contributes importantly to one’s quality of life – free opportunities for smiles and laughter. I stay open because I trust myself in what I do and how I do it, and I know each new experience I venture will bring me a smile, an opportunity to be kind and receive kindness through spontaneous conversations when I’m out and about. This is my “why”, and I believe that BEing spontaneous is joy that I want to share with you. My hope is that you’ll find my way of being spontaneous inspirational. Being spontaneous may add a little more enjoyment in your daily moments.
Let’s take a brief look at what Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines as spontaneous, “…proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint; arising from a momentary impulse; free will; self-acting; controlled and directed internally; impromptu, ad-lib, casual” … well, I think you already got the gist.
Going with the Flow
I enjoy behaving spontaneously because it allows me to appreciate an ability to go with the flow, just letting myself have an experience I choose in the moment, and with an easy-going attitude about whatever shows up wherever I am. It took a few years in my life to gain seasoned self-confidence, and to be free of self-controlled behavior. I do think it’s all the things we heard growing up …no talking to strangers, keeping quiet unless spoken to and so on. If I’m so inspired, I like talking to someone in line at the market spontaneously or deciding at the last minute to take myself to the movies.
Being flexible is a key ingredient in being spontaneous, in my opinion. I believe, that when you’re flexible, you are present. When I allow myself to go with the flow in the moment, without a preconceived notion of how the experience is “supposed” to be, I sometimes am surprised myself at enjoying a delightful experience that I didn’t even expect!
Something like this happened to me in 1971 when a “new” product came out in the market: the BIC throwaway lighter. When I saw that lighter, so many thoughts immediately flooded my head and I spontaneously wrote a poem about how, in our society, we are making things that deliberately break down, not like they “used” to make things, like a Maytag washing machine, made to last at least 30 years. This “new” BIC lighter was actually made to be thrown away when the lighter fluid would run out. Poof! In the trash! I wondered where we were headed as a society. Just to think that we, as humans, were also meant to be “thrown” away as we got older? Were we all dispensable like the BIC lighter? The simple act of writing something spontaneously, helped me channel thoughts from within, and that can happen anywhere, any time!
BEing spontaneous helps me stay in the present moment, it allows me to be open to any new experience that might occur. One time, I spontaneously decided to take myself to see a movie. Standing in line, I met a man, and we began chatting. He was an interesting fellow and he asked me what movie I was going to see. I told him, and he asked if he could join me in my movie since he also took himself to the movies alone, and we had an instant, spontaneous unexpected, delightful “date” that was totally unexpected! If I hadn’t been open, trusting in myself, and genuinely interested in other human beings, I would have missed out on that opportunity, not even knowing that this sort of mutual kindness in sharing was possible. The joy of spontaneity cannot be measured, it can only be experienced.
I do know that everyone is “wired” to be spontaneous, and it depends on an individual’s wiring. Spontaneity may mean differently to one who is introverted than to one who is extroverted. Nevertheless, I believe that spontaneity needs to be learned, starting with baby steps, perhaps a smile, a brief exchange, or a random chat at the salon. When you experience a returned smile to yours, you’ll find your heart opening and the smile staying on your lips for a little longer than you thought!
I have a friend who is learning how to be more spontaneous in his life just by looking at his experiences with a different perspective and deciding to act more spontaneously when similar ones occur. I believe that living life NOW with joy-filled impromptu snippets daily makes for daily life quality increase. It’s never too late but waiting until the end of life to enjoy life is less than living, and my friend has now learned to allow himself to be more spontaneous and less rigid. He loves this new way about BEing spontaneous!
I happen to be the type of person who crams in as much living as possible into the time that I have in this life. It could have started when I bought the one-way ticket to Europe when I was 19, hitchhiking in Europe for 6 months. Talk about spontaneous! My friend and I gave ourselves the gift of time, knowing that we would never travel this way again. And every day we just followed our instincts, met people on the road, stayed here and there and learned to trust ourselves. We learned to take each day as it came and were open to all kinds of new experiences.
One night, we even stayed in a cave with two very nice Spanish fellows in Marseille, France. We had left our hotel because of fear due to some “goings-on” that made us feel unsafe there. Once we left, we had no clue where we were going to stay. We went to the only café that was open and met these two guys there, and when they heard why we felt unsafe in our hotel, they invited us to stay with them. It turned out they had left their sleeping bags in this cave and when we got there, they pulled them out for us. Obviously, we sensed that it was fine to trust them. In the end, they were complete gentlemen, and in the morning, they fished and cooked the fish for us for breakfast!
Letting Yourself BE Spontaneous
The wisdom of spontaneity teaches us to trust our instincts too. Let’s say that I wouldn’t care to spontaneously walk down a dark alley where suspicious figures were lurking about. Being spontaneous in this day and age can be thrilling when we allow ourselves to find value wherever we are. Many people today live alone. Does that mean they can’t be spontaneous? No, of course not! I live alone and still take myself on adventures and journeys. I’m 70 years old. It’s never too late to bring spontaneity into your life! Even getting a massage spontaneously or having your nails done or taking a walk and getting ice cream, all add to the wonderful life experiences we accumulate.
So, what does a spontaneous lifestyle look like and is it the same as spontaneous living? I believe, as human beings, we all want a particular quality of life that is fulfilling and joyful. Why else would we be living? We know we are all going to die one day, and it would seem reasonable that we would want to live as fully as possible before we go, right? If you have created a lifestyle for yourself where you are financially well enough to be able to travel and not have a set time schedule, then you are fortunate to be able to pick up and take off to wherever you want to go. Even if you are not financially capable of traveling, you certainly can take yourself to free concerts, musical events, museums, parks or wherever your heart wants to go. It’s really is about taking that first step.
What You BRING to Your Experiences
What’s important to remember is how you choose to have your experiences, and what you BRING to your experiences that matter. BE open to talk to anyone. BE open to try on a new experience that is out of your comfort zone. BE open to experience a part of yourself that you haven’t experienced yet. THAT is being spontaneous because that attitude opens up possibilities. I believe that spontaneity keeps us young. If we are not curious or carry wonder anymore, what’s the point? Let your childlike self, come out and play. We were spontaneous as kids. We went to the playground and spontaneously decided to go on the swings, make “friends” in the sandbox”, then spontaneously run off to go on the slides, and we were just BEing present with our little lives. It’s no different now, really. The sandbox just got bigger to include the world!
BEing spontaneous is an attitude that you can bring into everything you do, letting yourself decide in the moment, what you want to do. BEing in a routine can be comfortable but it gets boring too. We can become complacent, so I think we need to add in some activities and even meet new friends. It’s one thing to live alone, it’s quite another to feel alone. Living alone can be fun actually, because you can break out into a dance in your living room, listening to music that stimulates your soul without disturbing anyone. That’s a spontaneous moment! If I feel like cooking myself something spontaneously, then I am free to do that too. There are a lot of benefits to living alone – whether by chance or circumstance and just allowing yourself to be spontaneous. If you do live with someone, encourage each other to be spontaneous together!
Enjoy BEing Spontaneous
I say, increase the joy factor in life, and having an unplanned, unexpected, fabulous experience is a wonderful way to live! Next time you are in the park or near some grass, take off your shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet. That in itself is quite grounding and soothing. There’s nothing like mother earth supporting your way in life in whatever you do. Let yourself dance in the mirror, talk to strangers, walk on the beach, take an art class or a class you’ve always wanted to do.
BEing spontaneous doesn’t mean you don’t plan something. It just means you may be doing something out of the ordinary, spontaneously. Go visit a friend. Remember when we used to just drop by someone’s house without calling? That used to be the norm. Nowadays we are texting before we do anything. Even picking up the phone and calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time could be considered a spontaneous act. Someone I went to Girl Scouts with texted me the other day, and after twenty years, it was so much fun to hear from her! Who have you been wanting to talk to and haven’t? Who have you been wanting to tell that you love them? Don’t wait for any of these things, just DO it. DO something spontaneously out of nowhere to surprise even yourself! When was the last time you took yourself to have some ice cream with whipped cream? Doesn’t that sound yummy?
There is nothing like the present time to live your life as fully as possible by adding just a touch of spontaneity to your daily life.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do!