Do you take Facebook quizzes? I can’t resist them, even the dumb ones. (“Which Finger Are You?” comes to mind.)

Last night, when I should have been writing this blog, I saw a quiz posted on a friend’s timeline: “What One Word Describes You?” Well, I had to take it, right? It featured two of my favorite subjects—words, and me. ;-)

My word turned out to be IMPULSIVE.

Now, I’m not going to delve into the philosophical/semantic/moral issues of whether “impulsive” is just a euphemism for “undisciplined.” I’m going to stick to the meaning the test was using. It describes the “impulsive” person as one who likes “to live in the moment” and tends “to be a pretty big thrill seeker.”

adorable girl in bowler istock

At first I thought, heck, yeah! That sounds like a fun word to be! I’m impulsive, and therefore delightful, charismatic, flexible, spontaneous…

But…woah…hang on, there. I would love to meet that cool person, but I am never in this lifetime going to be that cool person.

And yet, something in the word still rings true. So, impulsively, I decided to mull it over a bit, instead of writing this blog. And here’s what I figured out.

bored cat istock

I simply can’t thrive on a life that has no excitement, no surprises, no spontaneity, no risk. I feel as if I’m smothering on my own boredom if I go too long between adventures. I adore an adrenalin rush and secretly think bungee jumping looks awesome. I long to encounter a ghost somewhere. Anywhere. Overplanning a trip makes me want to chew off my own toes. Even packing gets on my nerves.

kitten in basket istock

On the other hand, if you make me do weird, dangerous, stupid, reckless or terrifying things every day, I’m outta here. I was taught by nuns, raised by a Puritan, and I have a highly evolved survival instinct. I’m a keeper, a clinger—if I ever loved you, I love you still. If I ever hated you, probably ditto. To me, Change seems like another word for Loss. If you took away my lovely, dependable routine, I’d be a basket case in a week.

So… Does that mean I’m…well, nuts? No, but it definitely means I’m tricky. Luckily, I can be managed. Here’s the perfect solution, which I came up with when I should have been writing this blog.

calendar morguefile

1) Schedule impulsive activities maybe six to seven times per year.

2) Ideally, introduce activities approximately every other month, although some variation in intervals is desirable, to avoid rendering the impulsive predictable.

3) Activities must fall in middle of risk-range.

roller coaster morguefile

Note: Acceptable range includes anything from 3.3 (mainstream adventures with little to no physical risk, such as roller coasters, palm readings, impromptu road trips, or binge-watching Revenge all weekend)

bungee morguefile

to 7.7 (fringe activities with a moderate risk of physical harm and/or incarceration, such as bungee jumping, casino gambling, stalking Daniel Day Lewis, or strip poker).

Obviously, any activities ranked too low on the scale (2.1: rolling stop at red light) or too high (9.3: caves) are not eligible.

So that’s me. What about you? Are you impulsive? If you’ve taken that test, what’s your word? I’m giving away an e-copy of any one of my available books to one randomly chosen poster!


22 thoughts on “Acting on Impulse

  1. Amanda Ward says:

    I’m Quirky. That’s me. Quirky all over!

    1. Amanda, that’s a nifty word. I didn’t realize “quirky” was an option, and now I’m depressed I didn’t get that one! ;)

  2. Kristin says:

    Haha I think we’re pretty similar on our level of impulsiveness. Although, I’ve been skydiving and bungee jumping. And I’ve stalked Alan Rickman.

    1. Oh, what excellent taste in stalkees you have! He’s on my list, too. ;) I salute your courage for trying the bungee jump. Was it terrifying? Was it wonderful? Was it (probably) both?

  3. mimi says:

    This is classic! My word was enthusiastic (as I imagine you already know, ahem), which makes me think of the internet dog vs. cat explanation. DOG (moi): A walk! My favorite thing! Dinner! My favorite thing! Fetch! My favorite thing! vs. CAT (vous): Impulsively jumps up and runs through the house for no reason and surprises the daylights out of everyone. :)

    1. Yes, Mimi, I could have picked that adjective for you out of an entire Roget’s! But you do destroy my much-loved theory that DogPeople like cats, whereas CatPeople like dogs. The theory was if you’re hyper-enthusiastic already, what you are drawn to is an animal that zens you out. If you’re a little emotionally flat by nature, you need a good dog to liven you up. I hadn’t met a clear exception until you. So thanks for that. ;)

  4. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Oh, I take those too and then get mad at myself for wasting time. I think the one word that would NOT describe me is IMPULSIVE. But I think I probably should schedule a little of it in my life sometimes, just to keep things fresh.

    1. Shana, as long as we schedule the impulsive behavior, it can’t do any real harm, right? Just like as long as we beat ourselves up about wasting the time to take quizzes, all damage is offset. Keeps the universe in balance, so to speak. The same goes for too many cookies, excess shopping, etc. I’m sure of it.

      1. Kate Person says:

        I agree. Magical thinking keeps me sane, or so I tell myself. Lol

        1. Well, now, Kate…I didn’t make any claims as to sanity. ;)

  5. Kate Person says:

    I didn’t take the facebook quiz, but one with the same ‘what word describes you’ said I was Brave. I’m okay with that.

    Although I don’t schedule time to be brave, opportunities just sort of pop up often. But these could be construed as open-mouth-insert-foot opportunities too.

    1. Kate, you’re too funny! I bet that lots of times what we call courage was inadvertent!

  6. I used to be fairly impulsive, Kathleen, especially emotionally. I grew pretty cautious as I got older – probably because I got burned one time too many! Still, a little spontaneity is always a good thing, right?

    1. Vanessa, trying to adapt intelligently to the “burn” problem without surrendering one’s basic love of spontaneity may be the great challenge of growing up. I’m still looking for that happy middle-ground, myself.

  7. I stopped taking these quizzes when I was told that of all the predators, I most resemble the shark. Please. I’m such a grizzly bear! As for impulsive, no, that’s not really me. :-)

    1. :), Kristan! Living as I do in an area beset by bears, I’m relieved to hear that bears are not impulsive. But I do see your important distinction. Sharks aren’t flexible enough. They can’t, for instance, climb trees to pluck you for lunch.

  8. Liz Flaherty says:

    I was impulsive, too, even though I’m not. I was also a little miffed because what I WANTED to be was enthusiastic. Which I am. A school friend made it all better by saying he was almost certain I could be both.

    1. Bummer, Liz. I always take the tests over and over, if I don’t get what I want the first time. My only self-regulation is that I won’t post the answers I engineer. ;-) And I think your friend is absolutely right! How could a person be impulsive if she weren’t enthusiastic?

  9. bn100 says:

    not really

    1. Bn, you may be lucky. It’s definitely a double-edged sword. Sometimes you pay to play.

  10. Glenda says:

    I took the same test and got impulsive too. But I’m really not impulsive…. I’d love a list of all the options for those things. I did the ‘spirit animal’ one and got Raven. I don’t see myself as the Raven description either. :-)

  11. Kim says:

    hmmm…scheduled impulsiveness? Seems a bit like an oxymoron. As for me, I love those test too. I have not taken that one, but the word that would most describe me would have to be eclectic. (I get enough spontaneity/adrenaline in my work on occasion to last me)

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