Embracing the Unpredictable: The Unexpected Benefits of Improv

The benefits of improvisation can be applied beyond acting and the arts. In August, one of our mentors Ted Livermore hosted an improv workshop for some of our young artists at Independent Sector. The workshop included exercises to get the group thinking on their feet and ready to engage with one another. 

Not only is improv a fun way to explore performance, it is also a great tool for moving beyond your comfort zone and exercising decision making skills. It can also be an effective tool for entrepreneurs and non-performance based artists as well. In a Forbes article entitled Four Reasons to Take An Improv Class written by Rob Asghar, the article cites several practical reasons for trying out improv. One of the primary reasons why improv can be especially beneficial, is that it encourages us to connect with one another it the moment. As the article discusses, there are more barriers than ever for fostering authentic human connection. 

Most of these barriers are due to technology – more and more we are connecting with one another through text, social media, email, etc. This reduces the amount of time that we spend living in the moment, and ultimately reduces the amount of time we spend connecting with one another in a natural and spontaneous manner. As Asghar asserts, taking an improv class can be a practical way of learning how to live in the moment again. Improv encourages us to interact with one another, face to face, without knowing what the outcome will be. Speaking of unknown outcomes, another key reason for taking an improv class is learning how to engage with uncertainty. Asghar discusses how taking an improv class taught him how to let anxiety and the unknown fuel his performance, instead of letting it become a barrier to success. 

A fact of life is that there will be unforeseen challenges that arise, situations and obstacles that we cannot plan for or prevent. Improvisation workshops encourage participants to become familiar with uncertainty and that confronting the unknown does not have to induce fear that prevents action or growth. In a Medium article entitled The Mental Health Benefits Of Improv: How Making Things Up Together Helps Us Deal With Reality, the article discusses how improv can help us to detach from linear thinking and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

It is evident that improvisation can be a useful tool in many areas of life – whether it be professional skill building, training for performance artists, or just learning a bit more about ourselves and how we can better handle the unknown challenges that arise in our lives. We are grateful for Ted Livermore who gave our young artists a glimpse into improvisation and its many benefits!