Life is a collaborative, creative, improvisational art. I’ve been trying to apply Tina Fey’s four rules for improvisation:
1. Always agree and say yes. Respect what your partner has created.
2. Yes, and. Add something of your own; don’t be afraid to contribute.
3. Make statements. Don’t just ask questions or point out obstacles; be part of the solution.
4. There are no mistakes, only opportunities.
When I remember, this approach does wonders for my relationships with self, others, and life. I’ll chug merrily along on some plan or routine till life ups and changes everything: “Hey, Sarah, how about this?” The creative improv response is to go with it and decide my next move. Acceptance, yes, but far from passive.
Improv makes you pay attention and stay in the present. There’s no time to second-guess yourself or fret over how people see you. Granted, life can’t always be improv. Sometimes an issue requires reflection, and agreement isn’t always possible. More often, though, living as improvisation can pull me out of myself to say yes and move on.
Thanks to Rev. Karen Armina of Madison WI for suggesting this take on the rules adapted from Tina Fey’s Bossypants (2011).
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.