After earning a degree in psychology, but before starting my training in education, I worked in a special needs program for autistic students. It was an eye opening perception shift to see the world from the point of view of my two key students. They challenged my ideas of what is real and what is important.
My autistic students disliked surprises. They disliked surprises a lot. As soon as anything approximating spontaneity loomed, emotional meltdowns ensued. I learned to stick to their program and keep things very, very predictable.
People with autism are not unusual in their desire for predictability, but represent the far end of the spectrum that is 100% predictable on one end, and 100% spontaneous on the other. Most of us fall somewhere in between, but most fall closer to the desire for predictable.
Spontaneity is usually interpreted by our structured, planned, and disciplined culture as impulsive and childish. As adults we are more likely to equate the word with spontaneous combustion than with being free in the moment.
Suddenly bursting into flames - not so good. Going with the flow of what life brings - very good.
I have found that the more spontaneous I am, the happier I am. And in a positive feedback loop, the happier I am, the more spontaneous I am likely to become.
It feels good to be free in the moment to follow our own energies and let life wash over us. The last time most of us allowed ourselves to be truly spontaneous was in childhood, and even then it is an impulse which adults wish to stifle.
Like my students, we need some structure in life to get important things done, like eating, sleeping, exercising, eliminating, keeping warm, and connecting with friends and family. The rest of the time we can give ourselves permission to set aside our rational, contained manner.
Predictability may provide the illusion of security, but one risks missing the possibilities of freedom. Life is vital when you release your own open, natural, and uninhibited self.
When we resist our own autistic tendencies, we can reconnect with our true spontaneous spirit and live fully in the moment. Who knows, great things may happen. Scientists often report key ideas and realizations "coming" to them spontaneously during periods of open relaxation.
Being more spontaneous leads to happiness, peace, and confidence. That is a good feeling to have at all times and will lead to shifts in perception.
Be More Spontaneous... Now!
- smile at a stranger
- do a good deed for someone out of the blue
- get into your car through the passenger door
- do something you have always wanted to do
- get in touch with someone you haven't connected with in a long time
- cook something you have never made before
- go for a walk, ride, or drive with no destination
- sit quietly until something happens
- set aside some time to do whatever you want to do
- skip work and go to the park (not near work)
- hang upside down