Improvisational comedy is a form of theater in which everything is made up on the spot. The characters, plot, setting, and all other aspects of the story are being created in that very moment, never to be repeated again. Most performers make it look easy, but improv actually takes years of practice, diligence, and stage time. And while the curriculum being taught in classes and rehearsals is specific to improv, the lessons can all be applied to everyday life – and, if practiced, can lead you to an existence that is more engaging, more fulfilling, and all around happier. Here are 30 of those lessons.
1. The most important thing is to be truthful.
2. Vulnerability makes you strong, not weak.
3. Listen to the person in front of you, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next.
4. Say what you feel.
5. Mean what you say.
6. Nothing is as infectious as watching joyful people do what they love.
7. When you make others look good, you look good.
8. Go after that which scares you the most; it’s your heart trying to tell you something.
9. Get out of your head and live in this very moment.
10. Be kind, even to those you cannot stand.
11. It’s more important to be sincere than it is to be funny.
12. Open your eyes and pay attention to the world around you – that will greatly improve your work, no matter what it is that you do for a living.
13. Putting other people down will not make you look better.
14. In fact, putting other people down will get you nowhere.
15. Ultimately, all that any of us want is to connect with others.
16. Don’t put people into boxes; a powerful CEO can be (or be played on stage by) anyone – a straight white man, a gay Latina woman, a young African American transgender woman, the possibilities are endless.
17. Every person you meet has something to teach you.
18. It is okay that others will be better than you at certain things; you will also be better than them at certain things.
19. Don’t waste energy trying to turn other people into your competition.
20. The majority of people are rooting for you, not against you.
21. And the ones rooting against you are probably doing so because of some deep-rooted conflict within themselves.
22. Everyone else’s opinions and experiences are equally as important as yours.
23. Don’t be an ass; no one wants to spend time on stage, or in real life, with an ass.
24. Listen more than you speak.
25. Maintain a culture of acceptance with the company you keep.
26. Spend less time overthinking, and more time simply being.
27. Criticizing other people’s ideas only makes you a tiresome presence to be around.
28. Every mistake is a gift.
29. Practice mindfulness – be conscious of every decision and choice that you make.
30. Lean on people you trust; they will always take care of you.