Five Benefits of Improvisation

Improvisation is short term. Thus, when we put it into play, we use the part of our brain that's responsible for making quick decisions. Today, we want to talk to you about how you can enjoy all the benefits derived from improvisation.
Five Benefits of Improvisation
Laura Ruiz Mitjana

Written and verified by the psychologist Laura Ruiz Mitjana.

Last update: 29 September, 2022

Some people are reflective while others are more impulsive. Thus, reflection and impulsiveness can be seen as two ends of a continuum. In reality, both thinking things through before acting and not doing so brings benefits. In this article, we’re going to focus on the benefits of improvisation and thinking less about things.

What exactly is meant by improvisation? In the dictionary, it’s defined as ‘creating something without having it planned or prepared’. When you improvise, you focus more on action than on thought. In fact, you simply act. This doesn’t mean that you don’t think about the consequences of your actions, but rather that you let yourself be carried away by what you feel.

“I think that improvising, knowing how to adapt and respond instantly is the key to happiness.”

-Cesar Aira-

The benefits of improvising and thinking less

Life doesn’t always turn out as you expected. Indeed, there are many factors that are beyond your control in everything that happens to you. This can often seem like a real mess, but it also gives you the opportunity to launch your ability to improvise and solve things without having to think so much about each step before you take it.

So what are the benefits of improvisation? As a matter of fact, learning to be more flexible and free when you act, without thinking so much about the consequences of those actions, has several positive aspects. We’re going to talk about the most interesting and tell you how you can start improvising.

Man and woman talking outdoors

1. It allows you to be more flexible

When you don’t have everything worked out in advance and you’re able to improvise, you become more flexible in reacting to unforeseen events. Thus, improvisation allows you to be more flexible. Think of the penalty taker who can change sides at the last moment because they’ve seen that the goalkeeper is stretching toward the side they’d initially chosen. They made a decision but were able to change it at the last minute.

Flexibility is of great help in reacting to situations in which you don’t have much control. Let’s face it, this is the case in most situations. Improvisation gives you the valuable opportunity to be able to act according to what happens without being frozen and not knowing what to do.

2. It helps you live in the present

When you think less about things, you carry out a valuable exercise for your mental health. You’re present in the here and now. When improvising, you usually focus on what’s happening around you and not so much on what’s happened before or what’ll happen in the future.

Improvisation means you don’t live your life waiting for the future and thinking about everything that hasn’t happened yet and may never even happen. In fact, thinking too much about things that haven’t yet happened can cause you a great deal of anxiety. Furthermore, if you don’t address it in time, it can become a real problem for your mental and emotional health.

3. It helps you rest

Thinking too much and following strict protocols in living your life can be exhausting. Therefore, allowing yourself to live in the moment in an improvised way can be a great relief for your soul, not to mention your body and mind.

Not having to prepare yourself mentally for everything that’s going to happen will help you reduce stress and be more rested. You’ll see how gradually, things begin to flow better and you’ll feel freer and happier than before.

4. It allows you to feel

It’s probably been a long time since you knew what it was like to truly feel. If this is the case, give yourself the opportunity to flow and be freer by not thinking so much. You can do this by improvising in the face of events that happen to you.

Giving yourself permission to feel will help you improve your ability to see, enjoy the little things, and learn to truly listen to others. Also, you’ll notice how much you can learn from others when you really pay attention to them.

5. Promote your self-knowledge

Finally, improvising and thinking about things less will also help you get to know yourself, ‘test yourself’, and get out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to appreciate how you behave in new environments and when you face challenging events.

If you always think about things too much, you don’t give room for novelty, for the new and the different. On the other hand, improvising more and thinking less allows you not only to discover new realities but to discover yourself in them.

woman eyes closed

Learn the benefits of improvisation and start living

Improvising and thinking less about things can be rather complicated at first, especially if you’re a person with a certain mental rigidity, who needs a lot of control, and who’s extremely reflective and self-demanding. Nevertheless, everything requires practice and perseverance.

However, knowing the benefits of improvisation is the first step to realizing that there are many things that are beyond your control and that this is perfectly okay. It doesn’t stop you from being happy.  Once you manage to find the balance between overthinking and improvising, we guarantee that the effort will have been worth it.

“What will be later is now. Now is the domain of now. And while the improvisation lasts, I am born.”

-Clarice Lispector-

How to learn to improvise and not think so much

The key to improvisation lies in finding your own strategies to not think so much, without it causing you problems. Here are some ideas to start:

  • Start with ‘easy’ things, which aren’t really important. For example, ordering takeout, saying something that comes from inside of you to a friend, making an impromptu plan alone or with friends, etc.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to improvise. Try it progressively, starting with simple things.
  • Identify how you feel after improvising. Freer? Distressed? Trying to regain control?
  • Value the benefits of improvising and not thinking about things so much.
  • Get out of your comfort zone from time to time.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bermúdez, J. (2003). Psicología de la personalidad. Teoría e investigación (vol. I y II). Madrid: UNED
  • Sánchez, M. et al. (2015). La medida de la capacidad reflexiva: instrumentos disponibles en castellano y tareas pendientes. Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría. Rev. Asoc. Esp. Neuropsiq., 35(127).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.