Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Joy of Accepting Unexpected Offers

We Laugh [out]doors
Originally uploaded by [wicked and lazy]
In any given day, we are given countless opportunities to engage in something we didn’t expect. For one reason or another we are too immersed in our own lives to be aware of opportunities, and if we are aware we consciously block those opportunities rather than accepting them to create joy that arises from the spontaneity in everyday life.

I am deliberately being as general as possible here by using the word “something”, because opportunities or offers can come in any shape or form. It can stem from a smile from a stranger, which can warrant you starting a rewarding conversation to being chosen to be interviewed at random and being asked “do you touch yourself at work?” (I’ll explain this later on… :)

Now to be explicitly clear, we’re not talking about unwelcome offers that are a threat to your own safety or are outside of your values and belief system; rather, I’m talking about the type that are non-threatening that you’ve determined and feel you can engage in fully with joy, ease and lightness.

The rule of thumb of your own acceptability of an offer or opportunity should be “Does this threaten or harm me? If not, can I have fun from this offer/opportunity?” If you’ve said no to the former and yes to the latter, then you can begin experience the joy of accepting unexpected offers!

What do you mean by “accepting an offer”?

The inspiration of this article comes from my improv (improvisational comedy) training at The Second City. I use the concepts I learned from my improv training to add more fun to my everyday interactions. The main concept or “technique” in order to create a scene or in this case, an interaction, and move it forward is to accept offers.

Accepting an offer is simply saying this statement to yourself (verbally or in your head) in the skit/scene or in this case real life, “Yes, and…”. The point of the “Yes anding” something is to heighten and explore the scene.

An example of this technique in action in a scene would be:

Mike: “Hey Franz, did you want catch the Patriots game with me and Geetha tonight? We have an extra ticket because August bailed on us”

Franz: “Yeah, and we can all pretend to be Manchester United fans talk with an English accent, bring horns to be loud as possible and try to convert Patriots fans to the real football!”

Here, you can see that Franz has accepted Mike’s offer and heightened and explored it. It may seem absurd, but the sheer fact of trying to convert hardcore Patriots fans to the “real football” amidst insulting American beer as a drink for girls can be daunting and well… fun! If Mike and Geetha are willing, they can further “yes anding” Fred, with the end result being fun, spontaneity and havoc ensuing!

How you can apply this in everyday life

A few weeks ago, I was walking towards the men’s change room to get changed for my tempo run. As I was walking I looked into one of the Studios at the school gym where I go for training. As I looked in, I saw a room full of women who were doing some sort of Tae-Bo like cardio workout program, where the instructor enthusiastically invited me (a complete stranger) to join in.

After asking myself, “Does this threaten or harm me? If not, can I have fun from this offer/opportunity?” and determined that the offer was safe and fun (alongside my utter inability to turn down offers of this nature). I fully committed to the offer and as a result, had a fun and amazing workout that was even better than the tempo run I originally planned for.

“Do you touch yourself at work?”

Just the other day, when I was walking towards the library to get some studying done for one of my accounting courses, I was stopped by a scruffy looking reporter holding a microphone with his cameraman.

What happened afterwards went along the lines of this:

Reporter: “Hey, do you have a minute to answer a few questions?”

Me: “umm.. sure.. what did you want to ask?”
Reporter: “We wanted to ask you a few things about your job”
Me: “hmm.. okay…
Reporter: “Where do you work?”
Me: “I’m not at liberty to say” (because I’m not supposed to divulge details like that)
Reporter: “Do you hate your job?”
Me: “Well, I wouldn’t say that I hate it but, it’s unrewarding and unfulfilling…”
Reporter: “So you hate your job then.”
Me: (taking a clue here and accepting the offer) “Yeah, I hate my job”
Reporter: “Why do you hate your job, though? Does your job entail you having to touch anyone?”
Me: “Haha. NO.
Reporter: “Do you touch yourself at work then?”
Me: “Yeah...sometimes…*shifty-eye + big toothy grin*”

Obviously that isn’t the truth, but I had effectively heightened and explored the interaction by accepting his offer by employing self-deprecating humour with the outcome being laughs shared by all.

*** Note *** I don’t condone using self-deprecating humour all the time as you want people to laugh with you not laugh at you, through my experiences and training I deemed it appropriate to do so.

After the interview, I found out they were shooting for a promotional campaign for Staples Business Depot up here in Canada, posting their mini-interviews on their website and was given a $20 gift certificate for my time all from a quick 2 minute interaction. Not too shabby huh?(I’ll link to the interview when it goes live).

As you can see, above are examples from my own life of accepting unexpected offers. I feel that our time on earth too short to be drowned under the crush of waves that we call “life”. By employing this basic improv technique, you can create a sense of joy along sharing it with others by putting smiles on faces of people you interact with that will be guaranteed to resonate throughout the day.

Have you ever used the technique of “yes anding” unknowingly and “going with it”? Were there any situations in hindsight that you could have done so? Let me know in the comments!

If you learned anything or liked this article, please Digg it. I appreciate your readership :)

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