It seems like whenever I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, something inconvenient can happen, and it usually does. I can’t tell you how often I’m running behind for a big meeting and notice a stain on my shirt or a broken shoelace. Sometimes I can’t find my car keys or I notice the gas tank is near empty.
If I allow even one of these annoying moments to try my patience, it could set me off for the rest of the day. In the end, all it takes is one annoyance to influence another one, and then another, and so on. This domino effect can be devastating, but when I recognize it for what it is and say to myself, “This is a test, and I will pass it and learn from it.” I set myself up for a happier, more productive day both professionally and personally. Here’s where humor can really be a difference maker.
One time, my wife Gina and I were running late for an important dinner engagement with a corporate client and I couldn’t find my glasses. I tore the entire house apart looking for them. The more I looked, the more irritated I became, throwing items around and stalking around the house like a mad man. I noticed Gina was sitting in the living room chair shaking her head with a smirk on her face. Finally, I said, “Why don’t you help me look instead of just sitting there?”
“You want me to help?” she asked.
Miraculously controlling my temper, I said, “Yes! If you don’t mind!”
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll help. Why don’t you check your face?”
Of course I had been wearing them the whole time! I couldn’t believe it. I could feel my bad mood escalating; a part of me was angry at Gina for letting me search the entire house when she knew we were going to be late for the dinner.
At that instant, I found myself in the middle of two conflicting choices. If I got upset at her, it could have easily turned into an argument that would have set the tone for the rest of the evening. But something inside me knew what the consequences would be if I held onto the anger. So, when I looked at Gina, who was trying with all her might to refrain from laughing, I decided to go with the positive emotion and began to laugh too. I looked at Gina and said, “Oh yeah. Right where I left them. You’re never going to let me live this one down are you?”
As we were leaving, Gina noticed I was jiggling the keys in my hand and continued to poke some fun– “Now,” she said, “If you can only find your car keys we might make it in time for dessert!”
We laughed all the way to the restaurant as we recalled some of the more ridiculous things I had done in the past. Laughter put us both in a relaxed, positive mood, which set the tone for an enjoyable and very successful evening.
It is amazing the power we derive from stepping outside our emotions of the moment and give ourselves permission to make a shift and view them from a humorous perspective. But you don’t have to be a comedian, armed with an arsenal of rapid-fire funny remarks or wise cracks at your disposal to give your Humor Being the opportunity to express itself.
What’s important is not necessarily to be funny, but rather to allow yourself to see the funny in a stressful or challenging situation. This is a habit that anyone can master. The more you challenge yourself to see the humor during adverse times, the more your Humor Being will become a part of who you are. The more you Humor Being becomes a part of who you are, the more you will be able to enjoy your life.
So, when do you need to tap into your Humor Being? When you become aware that your emotions are veering out of control. Awareness is the key that will set you free from the wrath of negative emotions of any kind. If you’re not aware that something is wrong, you won’t know you’re heading in the wrong direction. How do you determine they’re heading in the wrong direction? Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself any number for the following warning questions:
“What will be the consequences if I hold on to this anger?”
“I have an important meeting with a client. Am I putting my best foot forward now?”
“What will happen if I don’t get my shift together?”
“I have an extremely busy day. Am I in the mood I need to be in to get things done?”
“Are my fears keeping me from succeeding?”
“What can I do to turn this mood around?”
“What would Steve Rizzo say if he could see me now?” (Or substitute “my mother” for “Steve Rizzo” and “she” for “him.”)
These types of questions act like radar, warning you that you’re spinning out of control and becoming dangerously negative. More importantly, warning questions are good reminders that there are better ways to deal with frustrating and chaotic events, than clinging to the worst-case scenarios that they bring up.
Here is one humorous strategy to get you on your way. The next time you’re at the breaking point of losing it, imagine that your Humor Being has a voice and is taking on the role of a news reporter giving you the blow-by-blow account of what is happening to you.
“We interrupt your regularly scheduled life to bring you this special news bulletin! This is a message from your emotional broadcasting system. It has been brought to our attention that you are late, stuck in traffic, and your back sweat is turning your seat into the Everglades! You are now being tested to evaluate the severity of the negative situation. Right now you have a choice! You can either get your shift together and laugh, learn the lesson life is trying to teach you, nourish your soul, move on with confidence and enjoy the day, or you can suffer from inner conflict, get angry, lose control and let opportunities pass you by! May the shift be with you. Back to you in the studio, Chuck.”