As we celebrated our country’s birthday this past week, and the freedom that we’re lucky enough to have to go along with being a citizen, I’m quickly reminded of the everyday freedom that most of us not only take for granted, but more often than not don’t even recognize. That’s the freedom to choose how we experience life.

As a fan of live improvisational music, I’m often enamored by not just the music and the way my body reacts to it, but also the journey of the improvised music itself. When done to my liking, an improvised jam will be made up of an ebb and flow of energy that keeps me paying attention and waiting for the proper release. Sometimes I’m not sure where it’s going to go, but the longer I pay attention to the changes, the more I get invested, mentally, in the path of that very song.

As a life coach typically working with musicians or others within the music industry, I’ve found that the act of creating improvisational music, or participating in a jam, to be an interesting metaphor for how they approach their interaction with life.

Here is a quick list of five lessons that we can steal from musicians and apply to everyday life:

Be Present
I often ask my clients, “When do you perform best?”

Typical answers are:
“When I’m in the zone – when I’m not thinking about anything else.”
“When I’m not worried about what’s going to happen next.”
“When I’m listening.”

In other words, they’re not worried about what happened earlier that day and they’re not worried about what song they’re going to play next. They’re looking at, listening, and feeling everything that is going on in-that-moment and recognizing that they’re a part of it. They’re essentially creating.

Be You
We all bring millions of unique seconds of past experience into everything that we do. When we embrace who we are, and add that to how we create and participate in the song of life, we bring our signature and style to everything we do. Feel your part and play it because it aligns with who you are and what you’re there to create.

Play With Others
This is a two part lesson:
a.) Intentionally spend time with others who have similar tastes, styles, interests, purposes, and goals. Be open to teaching and learning from them.
b.) Intentionally spend time with others who have different tastes, styles, interests, purposes, and goals. Be open to teaching and learning from them.

Share Your Gifts
For my clients, they’re creating music. For you, it may be another form of art such as photography, painting, writing, cooking, or entrepreneurship. It may just be how you interact socially with others in conversation. First and foremost, we often create for our own benefit because of an innate drive to express ourselves and make sense of this crazy adventure called life.

But if we keep those creations to ourselves, in this coach’s opinion, we’re doing our gifts — and our natural drive to create — a disservice. When we share our creations, we’re giving that which has been given to us. By giving, we offer opportunity for others to align with, be inspired by, or entertained by our creation. In addition, we can even potentially inspire others to co-create with us.

Learn From The Experience
From the musician’s perspective, the end of every performance can be an opportunity to decide what they learned from what just came out of their existence. For the rest of us, it may just be the end of each day that gives us that opportunity. The great news is (and this is where that “freedom of choice” thing comes into play) that we can love what we created and experienced, or we can choose to prefer it went in a completely different direction. Both are choices and both can benefit our journey.

Of course there is a third choice, which is to hate it and wish it never happened at all, but chances are if you’re reading this, you know that choice doesn’t serve us or any purpose. It’s best to choose the option that most empowers us to be who we deserve to be.

Part of being free is to recognize that we’re free. Free to experience joy, adventure, awareness, growth, change, and life. The other part of that is to then make the conscious choice to participate accordingly. Improvising in the song of life with purpose takes some practice, but when we do, it means we have an opportunity to build that internal “super muscle” which is able to listen, feel, and participate simultaneously.

To put it another way, we can anticipate and create changes, instead of dreading them or being scared of them, despite which direction they may go. Sometimes, as part of that practice, we become awkward or uncomfortable. In those moments, I suggest that we choose to be present and press on.

Let go of the end of the song and follow the flow. Allow yourself to feel the flow and it will only lead to more creation. When done correctly, not only do we feel the flow, but so do our co-creators and our audience and they react accordingly. This in turn creates more energy, more alignment, and more freedom.

Freedom is a choice. Sing your song and create your masterpiece.