Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ring out the old, accept the new

Happy new year!

Something I just read in an online article, the "10 Keys to Happiness" by Deepak Chopra, struck me as similar to something I read the other day in Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.

One of Chopra's keys is to "accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be." In other words, don't fight what is happening now - go with it. Though it may be hard to stay focused on the present, it's the only moment you have.

Gladwell's Blink is about "thin slicing" or the "adpative unconscious" - our ability to make instant yet sophisticated choices by filtering out everything but the stuff that really matters. Examining the art of improvisation comedy, he explicates the "idea of agreement," "the notion that a very simple way to create a story - or humor - is to have characters accept everything that happens to them." If during an improvised skit one actor says "let's hop in the car and go!", another one should say something like "I'll drive," not something like, "but I wanted to walk!" Gladwell adds "if you can create the right framework, all of a sudden, engaging in the kind of fluid, effortless, spur-of-the moment dialog that makes for good improv theater becomes a lot easier."

Both authors are showing the value of, in Gladwell's words, "successful spontaneity." Life is easier, more fun, more interesting, and ultimately more rewarding if you follow the "idea of agreement." Or put another way, view your life as improv theater. Accept what happens, appreciate it, which doesn't mean you have to like it, learn from it, and flow to the next scene.

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