This week’s Comedy Around the World goes to Florida’s Everglades. I traveled to this strange place ten years ago. My friend and I went on the boat ride. You know, the one with the big fan on the top, that just skims the water.
We could see some of the alligators along the banks. At one area, the driver stopped the boat. He asked us, “Do any of you want to get out and stand in the Everglades?” My friend enthusiastically said, “Yes!” and jumped in. I knew what the bottom of a pond is like, so I said no. Plus, I would rather be considered chicken by the other tourists instead of the alligators.
When I look at the picture we had taken–him in the water, me sitting on the boat laughing at him–I used to regret not going into the water. But now it doesn’t bother me as much.
I don’t have to be a maniac and do every scary thing I can imagine. Maybe there were barnacles and snakes at the bottom. Or a pull tab from a pop can. Either way, it may have been dangerous.
Point is, my friend’s action wasn’t risky at all. To him. His risks aren’t mine, and mine aren’t his.
We only need to assess the pain factor (in embarrassment, extending our comfort zone, or actual physical danger) and act in our own best interests.
As long as we choose something that stretches us, I think that’s enough.
Tonight I caught one of the final performances of Cats before it left Pittsburgh’s Benedum Theater. The musical is a dizzying array of lights, music, costumes, dancing, and not a plot in sight.
At least that’s what I thought during the first act.
But then I really listened to what was going on.
I listened beyond the flashy dancers and the bright costumes. I listened to what was beyond the lights and set designs.
I listened to the most interesting characters.
Because they were the most unlikely. They were the aging cats. One looked like his fur was made from a dirty mop and had a face like Liberace. The other went on a dream sequence where I think he was a pirate? And the female cat wore tatterred fur and high heels. Hers was the most poignant song of the entire musical.
These weren’t flashy characters. Their costumes weren’t even interesting. But they were.
Theirs were the stories that helped me piece together the plot. Theirs were the stories that would rip your heart out. Theirs were the characters that you were rooting for in the end.
When we listen beyond the obvious–beyond the first place winner, beyond the shiny attractive exterior–we learn. Not only about the big picture, but about ourselves, too.
We all know that people who drive too slowly in front of us are idiots. And people who drive too close behind us are maniacs. It’s all a matter of perspective. When we really listen, we can see ourselves reflected in other’s behaviors.
Today I got my glasses adjusted. And my attitude. I saw what I may look like when I’m in a hurry.
Today I wasn’t. But the loud woman in the big fur coat was.
You know the type. While the technician was on the phone, this woman knocked on the counter. Yes, knocked. And then she started to explain her problem (with her glasses; I’m sure she didn’t notice her other behavioral problems) while the technician was on the phone. Yes, on the phone.
I’m sure we’ve all witnessed this type of customer. You know, the person who makes you embarrassed to be an American and glad that no other foreigners were in the mall to think you behave like this woman does. So as I waited my turn, pretending I was Canadian, I just listened.
Because when we’re the irate person, we can’t listen. We can’t hear anyone else’s perspective. We just want our needs met. We want our glasses fixed. Now. And we will pound on the counter.
Humor trains us to be observant. To really hear what’s going on. To listen. And learn.
Did you listen to the President’s State of the Union Address? I listened to both sides and their comments. Remember the sit-in’s they used to have? I wish we could have listen-in’s.
Because each side is expert at their particular areas. Brilliant. Genius! Unfortunately each side is preaching to their own respective choir.
Rarely does either side look at what is right, useful, or practical with the other’s side’s viewpoint. But that’s exactly where the answers are. In that ethereal space between the extremes. The grey area. The mixture of black and white, where anything goes.
We can’t see it because we don’t look for it. We don’t know how to look for it. Maybe we’re scared of what we may find. Or scared that we may have been wrong all along.
As long as neither side is willing to listen to the other–really listen–no one will access this realm of solutions.
Humor requires that we enter and enjoy this unknown territory. This territory where we can sift and sort from many different options and create solid solutions.
What side are you on? Are you sure of that?
Part of recognizing humor is listening for it. Someone told me that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Reminds me of when I was working in Mannheim, Germany, at a chemical company.
I would take the Strassenbahn from Boehringer company to the Lampertheim area of town. I would go to work out at the Gold’s Gym there. Then I would wait for the next bus back to Gartenstadt area of town where I was staying.
One day while I was waiting for the bus, I sat next to an elderly woman. She talked, I listened. Although I’d just graduated with a degree in German from Clarion University, I didn’t understand her dialect. I only got about 1/4 of her words.
So all I could really do was listen. Not respond.
While she talked, she made a lot of gestures. I noticed something on her forearm.
It was a string of numbers.
I’d learned about this marking in our German classes, and probably from watching documentaries. But that was the first–and only–time I’d seen it in person.
I wondered what it was like for her. Not just getting a string of numbers burned into your arm. But the entire experience of why she needed to have numbers on her arm.
Point is, if I would have wanted to try out my German language skills, I wouldn’t have noticed her numbers.
If I focused on my reply and making myself look good in language, her story would have gone unnoticed.
If I would have been too afraid to talk to this stranger, I may have lost the opportunity to witness something I’d only read about in history books.
Listening made it real. Listening made me acknowledge it. Listening is what keeps the memories alive.
On this Holocaust Memorial Day, there may be little to laugh about. Or maybe even nothing. But we can still listen to the message of listening to their story. Building our skills in this area will help us to note the humor that appears when the skies eventually do clear.
Thanks for your support–this website has just passed the 4,000 inbound links! Thanks for staying funny and encouraging others to use their sense of humor.
Get ready for a series of blog posts about listening. Having, honing and honoring your sense of humor means that you have to be observant. You have to hear what’s being said. You have to see the paradoxes that exist all around you, every day.
To help develop your humor power, we’ll discuss various strategies to improve your listening skills.
You may not think that being organized has much to do with humor. But it does.
It helps us to be clear.
So we can see the humor that surrounds us.
So we can document our observations and reactions.
So we can appreciate a slower pace. A calmer milieu.
To celebrate this aspect of humor here is a post by my friend and professional organizer, Patty Kreamer of Bye Bye Clutter.
Patty writes: “Pretty cool article on uncluttering work space in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette 1/24 - http://tinyurl.com/y9nt3lb. Please RT!”
How funny is that?!
Ever wondered what Frankenstein looks like skiing? Click this link to watch the video!
This week’s Comedy Around The World goes to New York state. Downhill skiing.
Yesterday was the first time I’d ever tried downhill skiing. I always thought it was an easy sport. Those people just go down the hill. It doesn’t require any muscle work or skill. Not like Cross Country skiing, not that is hard!
Well I was wrong. About everything. Especially as my shins started hurting. And that was just from putting the ski boots on. The rest of the day brought out new muscle pain with each skill we learned.
All day I thought about things our instructor taught us. Things that were a lot like Humor.
1. Lean forward. Toward the downhill side. Most people panic going downhill. They lean backward, thinking that hugging the uphill will keep them from falling.
Lots of people think that way about negative events, problem people, or other bad thoughts. We try to lean away from them. Ignore them. Fight them. We like to think they don’t exist. But if we acknowledge them for what they can teach us, we don’t fall.
2. When putting on the ski, our instructor Sue told us, put on the downhill ski first. The downhill ski and foot will have more control.
We like to think that positive thinking will get us everything great. And it will. But relying on the positive, uphill ski, will make us lose our balance, our control. We need to support our weight with both, as both can teach us necessary info. When we go toward what scares us–as I did with learning downhill skiing–it loses its power.
3. Sue kept telling me, “Relax. Don’t panic, you won’t run into anyone.” The more I thought about avoiding hitting people on the way down the hill, the more I forgot all the moves I’d just learned minutes ago.
The people will always be on the hill. Skiing is a popular sport. And there will always be a variety of adventures every day–both good and bad. When we’re relaxed, our minds don’t focus on the disaster scenario. We can better navigate around the problem areas and arrive safely.
4. We didn’t use ski poles. Our instructor said she wanted us to learn how to balance. And anyway, she said, ski poles don’t help you. They are only a crutch. And they could even get caught in the ski and make us fall. Relying on the ski poles causes us to grip the handles. This makes us tense. We can’t relax.
Don’t use anything as a crutch. Not even these six points! Not even if it looks cool, like skiing with poles, or seems right. When we rely so heavily on one mind-set, we miss the opportunities and messages that other ideas have to offer us.
5. Riding the ski lift is not a good time to remember that you are afraid of heights. But our instructor had told us that downhill skiing is like a movie. The picture is always changing. “It’s balance in motion,” Sue told me. So, I didn’t have to stay in my fear of falling into the icy snow below. The ride would end, and with any hope I would know how to disembark from the machine.
Too often we get mired in whatever negativity is happening right now. Or else we desperately hang onto the happy time we had last weekend. When we remember that the movie is constantly changing, we can keep our balance. We know that we don’t have to be connected to the events of our lives. We can just sit back and enjoy the movie.
6. Remember that you have control over your speed, your direction, and your safety. We learned how to do the wedge (or pizza shape of the skis) to slow us down. Making a thinner wedge would make us ski faster. A bigger one would slow us. We are always in control, the instructor told us. “All you have to do is change the shape of your wedge.”
What is your “wedge?” What is the thing that you feel you have no control over? The thing that you feel is pulling you downhill and out of control? Look down at your skis. Know that you can control your actions. Maybe you don’t have control over how icy the hills are. Or how many people want to ski that day in front of your path. But you can use the equpiment you already have, and let that take you safely down the hill.
See you on the slopes!
Get ready for the Spring Tour! Send in your Q’s and I will answer them at an event near you.
Email your comments, stories, rants and anything else you have to share about how YOU use humor in your life. In your workplace. At home, school, or out-and-about.
I’ll compile them as a component to my keynote. The most poignant I will share on my Facebook Fan Page.
Are you ready?
firstname.lastname@example.org with the phrase “Spring Tour” in the subject line.
Thanks for your input. It’s about time for you to get credit for making my and everyone’s job and life easier by using your unique style of humor!
Facebook Fans, please click or copy/paste this link to read the rest of the story and to post your comments: http://yourshiningexample.com/wp-blog
Humor is mashable.
Seemingly unrelated things collide to provide surprise.
With a mind-set like this, you can steer your humor into overdrive. You can steer your day to where you want it to go.
Are YOU Mashable? Take this quiz and find out:
1. Are you open to possibilities?
2. Are you un-bound by strict rules. (That was mashable because I just made that word up.)
3. Are you willing to deconstruct your frames of reference?
4. Are you going to implement something new, immediately?
Yesterday I had an MRI. I wasn’t afraid. I reminded myself that it would be a nice nap. And it was like taking a nap–in a Tokyo danceclub.
I thought about my friend Linda Stuckey who specializes in accent reduction. I thought of her when I was replaying a video clip I made yesterday. I think the Great Vowel shift must have passed over my house. (That was not a lintel on the side of the door. It was the battery case for my indoor-outdoor weather thermometer.)
These don’t have to be ‘good’ or even clever. But they MUST make YOU laugh. And if you’re mashable, they WILL!
Staying mashable is imperative in business. Marketing and advertising have changed dramatically and drastically. Video used to be relegated to movie stars and house pets who knew how to use the toilet. Now everyone is expected to be on YouTube. If you’re not there, you’re not seen. By anyone. I thought about reading my blog posts into an audio format. Would it work? Would it sound stupid (the accent reduction again)?
Today I got an enewsletter from a company that uses a vlog. Yes, a VIDEO blog. My fear of being mashable actually put me several steps behind in the cybergame.
How much money, and exposure are YOU losing because you over-analyze the ‘correct’ type of advertising? Think of the chance you’re missing to show people your personality–to get them to trust you from the start.
What are you waiting for?
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