There’s a type of stage play where there are no scripts and the performance is created right at the moment the actors step on stage. It is called improv or improvisational theater. Actors cannot know beforehand what they will be acting. The audience will tell the actors what their roles will be or the situation they will act out.
The conditions of improv seem like a recipe for disaster. But, what makes it so successful?
Is it because of quick-witted actors? Is it because of years of experience in acting?
Those are significant factors indeed.
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell shares the most important factor for the success of improv: actors accept whatever happens in an improv. Its the most critical rule of improv. Actors embrace what happens on stage and act in response to it.
Imagine an audience asking for a cop chase scene. One actor plays the role of a cop while another plays the role of a robber. In the scene, the cop tells the robber, “Wait, let me take a quick breather.” The robber asks the cop, “Do you promise you won’t catch me?” The cop says yes and they both stop for a while. The cop catches his breath and the cop chase resumes. It makes for a funny scene, doesn’t it? But suppose the robber resists the cop’s request and runs off, it won’t be as funny.
In real life, when we resist or deny the things that happen to us, especially those which are not pleasant ones, we get stuck and stay in denial. We try to figure out or justify why they happen and why they happen to us of all people. Then, we lose precious time and limited energy.
Only when we learn to accept the things that happen to us will we be able to move forward and make our lives like a wonderful improv stage play. Things in our past may be extremely difficult to accept. But once we stop resisting or denying that they happened to us, we will finally be able to get started with the next act of our lives.
Today, we start a new workweek of the new year. It’s a good time to begin accepting the things that happened to us in the past year (or years) and start anew. Today is also a new day, a new act, and a new chapter. We can write this new chapter of our lives carrying the weight of our yesterdays. Or we can write this new chapter with joy, gratitude, excitement, hope, and love. It’s up to us to write how our stories turn around.
But, it all starts with accepting the things that happened in the past.
Happy new chapter!