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What You Practice Grows Stronger

Series: Improv Lessons

People don’t need to be convinced to go to the gym. Well, I guess maybe some do, but you don’t need to work very hard to explain the importance of regular exercise. I don’t think anybody would go to a single pilates class and expect to be ready for Ninja Warrior. You have to train your muscles over time.

The point is, though, that you can be physically fit if you just work at it. This random article - the first result on Google for “can anyone run a marathon” - answers the question rather concisely in the first sentence. “With the proper training, I do believe that anyone who is in good health can complete a marathon.” The author goes on to elaborate, “However, it’s a huge physical and mental endeavor and is not something to be taken lightly.” You can do it, you just have to prepare yourself.

To put it another way, what you practice grows stronger.

Most people don’t even run a marathon or go on Ninja Warrior every day. Most people do use their brains everyday, though. Why don’t we have gyms for creativity? Why don’t we train our creativity muscles like we do our running ones?

I know what you’re thinking. “Some people just aren’t creative,” you might scoff. That’s totally a fallacy, and the evidence proves it. Here’s just one TED Talk on the subject (I think at least 75% of TED Talks are on the subject of how to be more creative). Dr. Roberta Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health, points out articles like this one from Newsweek decrying a “creativity crisis” that is sweeping the nation. She believes (as do I) that this creativity deficiency isn’t just part of who we are - it’s learned. She explains that it all comes down to “frames” that we get stuck in.

We do things because we’re “supposed” to do them. We say inside the box because the box is what we’re used to. You think you aren’t creative because that’s what you’ve always practiced. You (or perhaps the less accusatory “one”) have grown quite good at being uncreative. We are all couch potatoes of the mind.

Let’s go back to that article I linked to earlier, “Can Anyone Run a Marathon?” What if we apply the same logic to creativity? I believe that anyone who is in good health can come up with amazing original ideas. However, it’s a huge physical and mental endeavor and is not something to be taken lightly. You can do it, you just have to prepare yourself.

To put it another way, what you practice grows stronger.

We have all been practicing for so long to be a bunch of nice, homogenized little happy meals, tucked away in our boxes, following the rules and staying in line. I’m as guilty as anyone, after spending ten years working in offices and selling out to The Man. We are really good at that, because that’s what we practice.

What if every time you think “I’m not creative,” you said “my creativity is out of shape” instead? You just need to go to the gym and work out. Why isn’t there a gym for the mind?

Snark alert: oh wait, there is. It’s called Improv. It’s the practice of being in the moment and thinking quickly. It’s pure creativity. It is the mental equivalent to weightlifting while running a marathon uphill underwater while using one of those weird shaking belt machines you used to see in the 50’s. The best thing about it, though, is that doing Improv mostly involves a lot of laughing and having a good time instead of sweating and feeling like all your muscles are exploding.

How often do you exercise your body? Can you say you exercise your creativity as often? Let’s change our national mindset. We need a “let’s move” campaign for our brains.

I can help you start right now. Actually, my class doesn’t start until September, but you get the idea. Let's get in shape!

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