Years before my son was born, I took an improv class to improve my ability to connect with people, my creativity, and have some fun. Here’s one improv game that can help you change your attitude: It’s called ‘yes, and…’
In the world of improv, it’s your job to build a story. You remember grade school, where you learned a story plot has an intro/ setting, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution, right? Telling the improv story is always done with a challenge, such as having to use a particular word, only noises, or only body language, etc.
In the ‘yes, and…’ game you’re set up with any number of other players. A player throws you a line, such as ‘I ran into your brother at the store and he told me you were at home laying in bed for 2 days while your kids ran around naked eating candy’. This person may be pretending to flip ‘air omelets’ in an ‘air kitchen’ at the same time, giving the audience some context to where this is taking place.
Whatever you say, you have to start your statement ‘in agreement’ by saying ‘yes, and… (Insert whatever you can think of to build the story)’. Your answer might be something like this: ‘yes, and in addition to eating candy, naked, my kids were also watching television and squirting chocolate syrup on the walls. I thought instead of trying to correct the situation, I would let them do their thing, because my parenting philosophy is to ‘live and let live’. It was working for me, but then my husband came home.’ Since you also realize you’re in a make-believe ‘air kitchen’, you might pretend to start setting the table, so you can both eat your pretend meal together.
Then the first person has to answer you with a statement that heightens the story, or takes the story somewhere, starting ‘in agreement’ with you by saying ‘yes, and…’ He or she would have to respond to the fact that you’re setting a pretend table for breakfast. but it would be his or her job to further the storyline into a rising action at this point, or a climax. Get it?
Playing this game makes you realize how often your first answers in life are ‘no’ or in opposition of what you are being asked.
Think about how this relates to how you respond to your child(ren). How often do you say ‘no’ when you could say ‘yes’.
What about your spouse? Do you say yes a lot to your spouse?
What would it do to your stress levels if you have a ‘yes attitude’?
Try saying ‘yes’ more today as an experiment and see what comes of it.
Another way you can blow your mind is to have a conversation with someone where you are only allowed to ask questions as your reply. Go for a walk with your spouse. Ask him or her to help you with an area you both agree is a problem. Tell him or her you’re both only allowed to respond by asking questions for 5 minutes. Write the questions down that you want to revisit after the 5 minutes is up. It’s really a difficult challenge to ask only questions! See how this exercise brings you to solutions you wouldn’t have otherwise brainstormed.
If you aren’t familiar with improv games, we are going to play a few at the warrior maven workshop. See meetup.com/active-mamas.
For more information about robyn, see the ‘about robyn’ page above.