A spontaneous attitude to life actually has many advantages.
So if you’re the type that tends to plan everything, to overthink, to always work out all the details — you may want to go the opposite route from time to time.
Because in a nutshell, a healthy dose of spontaneity makes you happier. That’s what it’s all about: more happiness, and a more fulfilling life.
According to a recent study, if you consider yourself to be a spontaneous person you are also 40 percent more likely to be happy about life in general. That’s what emerged from a survey of 2,000 participants.
And even if you don’t trust the study (which may not be accurate), I’m sure you’ll agree that being spontaneous can make a big difference in terms of our happiness and fulfillment.
But you have to embrace it first. You have to embrace being spontaneous from time to time, rather than to see spontaneity as a negative behavior.
Is spontaneity a weakness?
Being spontaneous is not a weakness. Life is a balance of what we can control and what we cannot, what we are supposed to do and what we really want to do. Being spontaneous nurtures your natural self, the real you.
In a world made of rules, including unwritten rules, the idea of being spontaneous may sound like some sort of sin.
I think we’ve gradually gotten used to having a life where virtually everything can be planned and/or controlled. That’s a problem.
Only some decisions require careful planning. Only some of your activities need to be evaluated. Only some of your issues require logic to be solved.
And here’s the thing — even if you can plan something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
Planning vs spontaneity
Life is a pretty cool experience filled with a million things you know, and an immense amount of uncertainty as well.
To be happy, we need both anyway. It’s not like removing uncertainty altogether would make life better — not at all!
When you act spontaneously, you learn to love the unknown. You learn to love uncertainty and make it a part of your life rather than to try and avoid it.
You learn to “trust the universe”. You discover that, provided you don’t do anything too crazy, and use common sense, there is always a safety net even if things go wrong.
Most importantly, being spontaneous means to trust yourself rather than to trust plans.
When you act spontaneously, you follow your intuition, your desires, your nature — and silence the mind. Even if for just a second.
Both planning and being spontaneous have advantages. Learn to do both, regardless of your personality type.
Benefits of being spontaneous
1. Better relationships
Did you know that vulnerability is a key ingredient of fulfilling relationships?
It’s only when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, rather than guarded, that you are able to love and receive love.
Being spontaneous, being your true self helps you do that. When you do things spontaneously, you show your partner who you really are, and that’s the best way to connect with them.
Not only that, spontaneity leads to better relationships because it makes you curious.
It makes you try new things, new adventures, new experiences with your partner.
2. Less stress
How much tension has your body (or mind) accumulated because of careful planning, because you think you have to behave in a certain way?
Probably way too much tension. You may not be aware of it, or you may have gotten used to it. But it’s there.
The second benefit of living life more spontaneously is that it naturally leads to less stress. It won’t eliminate stress altogether; that’s not going to happen. But still.
The truth is that only part of our tension and stress comes from external factors. Part of it comes from us, from our tendency to resist, hide, plan, or control things.
Being spontaneous helps you go back to a more natural state — a relaxed state.
3. More freedom
When you allow yourself to act spontaneously, you also have a higher level of freedom.
Think about it: when you are not spontaneous, you prevent things from happening. Especially your own words and actions.
When you are not spontaneous, you subconsciously filter everything you do. You don’t just follow your nature, and do things — your actions are carefully thought over. Whether it’s for a split second, or a week.
Spontaneity helps you remove that gap, so you actually have the freedom to express yourself without the need to filter everything you say or do.
4. More time
Those who are spontaneous don’t wait too much, and this translates to more time. Not just better time management — more time.
Because the truth is that most of the time, when we are not spontaneous, what actually happens is that we simply postpone things.
If we are not spontaneous with our emotions or feelings (if we don’t allow those feelings to be expressed), chances are they will emerge sooner or later.
If we are not spontaneous with our actions (if we don’t do what we want now), chances are eventually we will do what we want anyway, but it may be too late.
If you don’t wait, if you follow your nature, your desires, you could be saving months or years of frustration. You could, in a way, live faster.
To be spontaneous means to love yourself. When you are spontaneous, you don’t need anyone’s approval to do what you want.
You simply follow your own rhythm, the music of your soul. You realize your own nature is important, and you no longer care too much about the what ifs.
That, in itself, is an act of self-love. By being spontaneous, you prioritize what you want, what you feel like doing rather than what others would expect from you.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.Dr. Seuss
6. More creativity
Being spontaneous also prevents you from living life on autopilot, which is something we all tend to do.
Each day, from the moment we wake up until we hit the pillow, we all go through a series of routines and rituals simply because we’ve gotten used to them.
However, only some of these routines are actually useful, or actually contribute to our wellbeing.
When you act in ways that are truly spontaneous, that gives you the chance to break the pattern, and maybe reevaluate some of the things you’ve been doing for years.
Too much self-restraint and inhibition can be caused by many different factors, yet you’ll find that the root cause is often lack of confidence.
The kind of person who is too controlled will often try to have control over themselves and their environment to simply avoid anything that’s unexpected.
They may feel that they wouldn’t be able to deal with anything that’s not planned, or anything that goes wrong in some way. So they control their behavior as much as possible.
Conversely, being spontaneous helps you care a little bit less because you believe in yourself.
When you are spontaneous, you no longer worry about the outcome of everything. Self-control becomes self-confidence, knowing that you are able to deal with anything that may come up.
8. The present moment
It’s hard to be spontaneous when your mind is focused on your past, or the future. To be spontaneous means to focus on the present moment, and that itself is an exercise.
It trains you to live in the present moment. Which is the only way to live fully — the present moment is all we have.
The opposite of being spontaneous is planning, and you can only plan things in the future. You cannot plan the present moment!
It’s good to plan. But there is no need to plan everything. It’s okay not to plan, and not to have goals. Be like Osho — live spontaneously.
Ideas to be more spontaneous
- Talk to strangers. Here’s an interesting exercise: whenever you’d like to talk to a complete stranger, to have a conversation with them or just say hi, do it. Don’t ask yourself if it’s appropriate; don’t worry about their reaction. Just do it. It trains you to be more spontaneous, and who knows, that stranger could become a special person.
- Go on an adventure. Travel to a country you’ve never been before, without too much planning. Go somewhere on your own rather than with your friends. Take a day off and drive to random places. Take long walks in nature. Anything that feels like a new adventure is probably a good idea.
- Live offline. If social media and the internet in general have become part of your daily routine, it’s time to take a break. Turn off your phone and you’ll realize how much time you used to waste. That time can now be used to do something new, to live offline rather than online.
- Do the opposite. Here’s another interesting exercise — doing the complete opposite of what you’d usually do. For example, do B then A instead of A then B. This forces you to actually pay attention to what you’re doing, to do things consciously and with spontaneous behavior.
- Love change. Be fanatical about change. Make it your motto, make it a way of life. Not only will constant change turn you into a better, happier, more successful person — it will allow spontaneity. It’s hard to live spontaneously if you do the same thing tens of thousands of times.
- Love mistakes. Remember? Controlled people tend to be controlled because they fear mistakes. They want to avoid potential risks, or things they didn’t plan or foresee. Which is a logical approach. But if you learn to love mistakes (which are a necessary part of life anyway), you’ll be more spontaneous as well.
- Wake up early. Get up one or two hours earlier and do whatever you want. I mean, don’t just play video games. Do something inspiring. Learn something new, exercise, declutter your home, read, go for a walk, do something creative or artistic. Allow yourself time in which you can be spontaneous.
- Stop planning. If you are trying to be more spontaneous, then this could be the most simple, best possible advice ever. Just stop planning. The less you plan, the more you do, the more you’ll find that life often rewards you for not planning, for being spontaneous. Everything can be done; not everything can be planned.