‘Don’t Plan It, Just Go!’: How to Be Spontaneous – and Grab Some Unexpected Fun - Deepstash
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Fun comes so much from spontaneity – doing things and not thinki

Back in the wild old days, my best buddy and I used to call going out “looking for trouble”. We weren’t hoping for a punch-up or a little light robbery, but a spontaneous adventure involving music, strangers or just the city at night. All that spur-of-the-moment fun has taken quite a beating since the pandemic began, for many millions of us. First came the lockdowns, social distancing and closed venues, then the cautious reopening when even a trip to the pub or an art gallery had to be booked weeks in advance.

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Psychological Suffering

We also need spontaneity to embrace change, says the clinical psychologist and writer Linda Blair. “And change is necessary for progress of any sort. Spontaneity makes us happier, too.” In 2016, a team of Austrian and Italian researchers found that people with less spontaneity in their lives experienced greater “psychological suffering”.

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The best way forward at the moment, says Blair, “is to turn things on their head and instead of talking about trying to be spontaneous, you say: ‘There is no other way to be right now.’” Now is the time for seizing the day and moving with your heart, or your gut. “You want to go to your favourite restaurant?” asks Blair. “Don’t plan it – go there today, while it’s still open.”

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Triggers are things that keep us acting automatically. The cookie jar that makes us think we’re hungry. The phone ping that takes us into a rabbit hole and delays making lunch by 45 minutes. Triggers are not spontaneity’s friends. So Blair’s top tip for starting the day free of our inner naysayers and triggers is to write down all your thoughts first thing in the morning, before you do anything else. This process is called the Morning Pages and was devised by the writer Julia Cameron, originally as part of what she called the Artist’s Way – a method for unblocking creativity. 

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"the lack of fun that’s available to them. And fun comes so much from spontaneity – doing things and not thinking too much about it, connecting with people, doing an activity and being allowed to take it in unexpected directions.”

JOE OLIVER

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One of the barriers is people wanting to stay in their comfort zones, where it’s safe, predictable, ordered and people know how things are going to go. The comfort zone can be useful – especially at the moment, when we need to keep safe, but there’s a danger of talking ourselves out of adventuring.

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Next time you catch yourself chickening out of doing something on the spur of the moment, he suggests overruling your critical brain and telling yourself: I’m doing this because it’s good for me. And I like it. It’s fun. Let’s persist through this initial anxiety and see what comes afterwards. Mindfulness will help you enjoy the moment you’re in, Oliver says, but it doesn’t have to be a full-on meditative practice. Just anchor into your feet, notice your breath for 10 seconds, roll your shoulders back, drop your arms and spend some time coming down into your body.

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we don’t accurately estimate what the future is going to be like. We usually think it’s going to be better than it is. And we don’t accurately estimate what the past was like, either. We are hard on ourselves and overly critical about what happened – or we romanticise it. But now, you can be happy right now

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