Part of the conversation went something like this:
“Every time she buys plane tickets online, she panics. She’ll find a low price, and
then have second thoughts and the price will go up. And then when the price comes back down, she’ll panic again, and buy the ticket. After she hits “Send” she’ll panic again and have regrets.”
I nodded politely and then ducked out, because that friend’s process was also the same that I use when buying plane tickets online!
Why do we do this? I wondered. Why do we panic in the face of choice. The answer lies in the lack. The lack of a humorous perspective underlying the decision-making process.
Unfortunately some people live in this atmosphere at work, at home, in other situations in life. It’s not pleasant. We can’t relax. We can’t focus enough to KNOW for sure that we HAVE made a good decision.
This Week’s Comedy around the World is leaving. On a jet plane. You pick the destination.
What is happening here?
1. The stakes are high. Plane tickets aren’t usually a small purchase. We know we have to make a right decision.
2. We think that because these stakes are so high, our decision has to be the perfect one. Right isn’t good enough.
3. We are paralyzed by the fear of not making a right choice. This fear spills out into other areas that have nothing to DO with purchasing the plane ticket.
4. Your whole life now hinges on your decision. You’d better not have a medical emergency on the date you’re to fly. And no other types of unforeseen happenings had better happen either. There is no leeway for spontaneity.
And so in our workplace it looks like this:
1. The stakes are high. Your wrong choice could cost you your job, respect, working relationships, etc.
2. Naturally our thoughts turn to perfectionism and following its deadly dictate.
3. This path to perfection puts us in a scissor-hold and binds us into a paradox. We’re unable to make a perfect (or any) decision because we know in our hearts that perfection does not exist.
4. We may have experience in witnessing what happens when people mess up. Bosses aren’t tolerant. Co-workers aren’t amused.
5. Because you leapt into the vortex of perfectionism, all other parts of your life must revolve around this central point. Your mind is consumed with how to get things to perfect.
How much easier it is with a HUMOR outlook. Humor is the centripetal force that embraces, encourages, enlivens us to make decisions fearlessly. Humor evokes
* Connectivity to others
When we live with and in HUMOR, we are free to choose and we are free from the fear of being punished for wrong decisions. The HUMOR process unleashes our creative powers and lightens the teamwork load.
What do you do when the most stressful person in your life is the whole world??
You summon your sense of humor, which will
1. bring awareness to the overall picture of what’s going on
2. help you pinpoint those things you can focus on, and change
3. heal your heart and mind by allowing you to laugh instead of implode
*You’ll survey the entire situation so you don’t miss anything potentially funny
*You’ll scan all the details, names, dates, situations, so that you can target your joke
*You’ll take the situation to the extreme so that eventually you can laugh again
What causes the worldly stress that affects us in big and in subtle ways? A big reason is technology and the insidious changes it requires us to make daily and sometimes minute by minute. Another reason is that changes in the world invariably change the way we relate to one another. Sociaologist Arlie Hochschild called this the “speed up” of family life that was a byproduct of long hours at work. So not only do we have stress in our outside world, but it turns internal as we are forced to figure out new ways of relating in this new and changing world. That makes me tired just writing about it.
But the more we see change inthe world as something outside of us, the less able we feel to do something about it. To save ourselves from it. To protect our mental and physical health from it.
“It’s only 5 more weeks of this!”
“That’s right—March 20th, isn’t it?”
I overheard some people at a store talking about the weather.
“Yeah, but they got it a lot worse in New York and other places.”
“That’s right. We can’t complain.”
But they just did!
I’ve always been amazed at people who live in warm, season-less climates. Where the weather stays pretty much the same year-round.
How do they process time? What’s their concept of change? Aren’t they bored??? Once the temperature got above 74 degrees I could only sit down and rest and wait until sunset. How do those people function?
Changing seasons trains us to deal with, manage, rail against, and conquer change. We have to. It’s that simple. So we intuitively and eventually learn how.
There are a few common steps that happen in this season-rich society where I live.
1. The shock-to-the-system of the initial change. Fingers go numb. Cars won’t start. People panic.3. Gradually the heavy coats and scarves, hand-warmers and heaters are enough. They become almost an extension of our limbs, an ever-present friend.The funny thing about seasons is that this process repeats itself again in the Spring. Believe it or not, there are those of us who don’t like spring. It means no more skiing, ice skating, snowboarding or using our studded tires. All our outdoor sports are gone. And this time it’s our comfort zone is shocked into a warm awareness.
2. Regular complaints against an institution that no one can change (acid rain and global warming notwithstanding).
4. At last, we become—almost—comfortable. We’ve accepted that we can’t change the weather that’s happening to us. And we may even find ways to enjoy it.
5. Funny thing, we discover that we’ve been in control all along. We could change how we responded all this time, ever since the first snowflake: what we wear, how long we stay outdoors, our enjoyment of this new acceptance of something formerly despised.
What if we could adapt this season-mindset and use it when we face other conflicts, turmoil, and chaos in our lives. Would we be able to lighten up about it, if we knew that our season would return and we would again find comfort and control.
What’s YOUR favorite season? Can you let it go?
Now HERE’s something different. Very different. From the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and FREE for at least one of you…
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Sunday, Jan 9 at 7pm
Call 412.316.1600 or BUY ONLINE and use promo code SAVEBIG to BOGO.
Not valid on previously purchased tickets or in combination with any other offer.
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“KNOCKOUT LAUGHTER!“ -Lowell Sun
“I hate sports. But I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING from the moment the RSC took the stage.“ -Eagle-Tribune
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Call 412.316.1600 or BUY ONLINE and use promo code SAVEBIG to BOGO.
There’s something N*E*W going on at YourShiningExample.com
My cat’s name is MAESTRO. If someone isn’t a classical music fan, they probably haven’t heard the word. And mostly no one has seen it spelled. But when you say it correctly it sounds kind of like it was derived from “mice.” Get it?
What a clever name. It’s perfect, meaningful. And—at the vet’s office—very very ineffective.
We sit amid the huddled masses trying to calm each other down. The receptionist calls out, “May-ES-tro?” (I never know whether their voice is rising because they’re wondering if we’re here at our appointment, or if they’ve said the name right.)
Usually we don’t answer because neither my cat nor I have ever heard of “May-ES-tro?” We didn’t realize the call was for us. We were only listening for a specific thing, focused on a specific goal. We wanted to hear what we wanted to hear.
And so everything else was muffled.
That’s the way we—me, my cat, and you and everyone—functions on an average day. We’re focused on goals. We’re specific. If something lies outside our range of attention, we may miss it.
UNLESS it’s something HUMOR-induced and capable of whipping us out of our cyclone of daily tasks.
UNLESS it’s something HUMOR-induced that creates a lighter load for the listener.
UNLESS it’s something HUMOR-induced that will remind us or our humanity and bring us back into connection with others rather than with tasks.
What do you hear when someone calls YOUR name today? How funny is that?
One of the B*E*S*T things that humor gives us is that ability to get people’s attention.
Right now, in any audience or office in the world, all the people there are in various stages of overwhelm. Good or bad.
Your job: to have content and platform skills that are strong enough (read: HUMOR-induced) to snap them outta their stupor—their worries, future-fears, concerns, even their joys. Because all those other emotions are flooding their minds and filling them with the inability to hear YOU.
At one luncheon I attended, people were giving their introductions. My table was the gregarious one—even though I was sitting there too. I thought I heard someone introduce himself as a “Ninja Bird” because he was wearing a turtleneck sweater.
Well, my antennae sprouted. I was intrigued because it sounded like a great title for a book that I will write one day! Sadly I found out the man had said, “introvert,” and explained that his friends call him that because he always wears turtleneck sweaters that cover his throat chakra.
Personally, I liked Ninja Bird better, and that I is what I call him every time I see him.
See what something out-of-the-ordinary can doàsnap us to attention, even when there is dissonance and static going on at our very table.
We can always hear the HUMOR.
Speakers, have you ever wondered what meeting planners are thinking? Now is your chance to find out!
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a panel of meeting planners will spend time answering your biggest questions and helping you understand your toughest challenges.
The panel will consist of:
Lynne Popash– VisitPittsburgh
Joyce Froetschel– Entertainment Unlimited
Miriem Bauer– Bauer Meeting Planners. Inc.
Michele Sawka - Minerals, Metals & Materials Society
Brian Taylor– Pittsburgh Society of Association Executives
Cost: NSA-Pittsburgh Members and Affiliates - $35, Nonmembers- $45, $55 at the door.
Register at www.NSAPittsburgh.com
When I was taking flying lessons (in a plane), my instructor, Craig, told me one day, “We’re going to fly into Erie International airport.”
I said, “No! I can’t do that. It’s “International.” It’s too big, intimidating. I won’t know what to do, and we may crash.”
And, besides, I was on to him already. He was the instructor who on my first-ever training flight, took me up in 17 knot winds. “Everyone does it, it’s not that bad.” Only later, when I told other flying enthusiasts about my first flight, did I realize how brave I had really been. Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also make you nauseaus.
Craig reassured me, “”International” simply means that they fly into Canada.”
The mystique was shattered. About “international airports” and about many other intimidating categories and labels that I’ve encountered.
In the one instance, knowing TOO much made me want to avoid action. In the other case, NOT knowing too much allowed me to take action.
Both cases started with a belief—correct or incorrect.
What’s “international” to you? Someone’s opinion of you? Trying something new? Singing in public?
Humor, like flying a plane, both are tenuous, and possibly treacherous. But if we can remove the translation barrier, we have a better chance at success.
In each instance from then on, I’ve reminded myself of the international airport. Even if the plane only went from Erie, PA to Hamilton, Ontario, it’s STILL CALLED ‘International.’
What matters is how we translate the word, how WE make meaning of it for ourselves. And what we do (or don’t do) because of our translation.
Who is YOUR translator? How funny is THAT?
This New Year’s Eve I totally missed out. Missed out on all those radio and TV shows reminiscing about the things that happened in 2010.
And you know what? I didn’t miss them at all. In fact, missing out on them made me realize all the reasons why I hate those types of shows. They aren’t very HUMORous at all.
1. These year-in-review shows don’t offer us a forward glance. Instead, they keep us mired in last year’s old news. Events that we have no power over changing. Of course we can change—in our minds—the effect those events may have had on us. But who wants to waste precious energy on doing THAT?
2. Looking backward gives us a very skewed sense of time. Either we realize we’d forgotten about all the tragedies that happened, celebrities who had died, or Golden Globe winners. Or, worse, we think, “Was that THIS year that that happened?” We’re left confused as we try and add, subtract, and multiply minutes and dates. And in the process, we divide our energy that we need to tackle this new year.
3. These shows take us out of the present moment. We can’t connect with anyone in the here-and-now because our minds are reveling, regaling, or retching about what happened to us, for us, without us, or about us in the past year. We’re distracted beyond what a normal person needs to be.
4. We’re cramped from creating new things because our minds are so stuck on reflection on what used-to-be. Oh sure, we can come up with new ideas and images. But when we have one eye on the past, we’re always going to be a not-wholly-authentic masterpiece of our own.
HUMOR not only holds our audience captive, it holds our hand as we traverse uncharted new-year territory. How we handled last year’s events isn’t important. What IS important is how humor can highten our hopes for the upcoming 365 days.
What did YOU choose to not remember about 2010? How funny is THAT?
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