Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Laughs: try a few each day to avoid terminal bitterness

When people are too serious, they are too close to life's events. Distancing yourself allows you to see the true proportion of things. When people laugh freely and often, they accept their imperfections and see place the world around them in perspective. A more carefree life begins with the ability to laugh at your own imperfect self.

I have to say I begin to worry about people who parse, analyze and critique ad nauseam the original fable of the monk who killed the cow. They take themselves far too seriously and are totally missing the woods for the trees...

Here is a quotable quote from one of my favorite authors G.K. Chesterton:

"There are two ways of dealing with nonsense in this world. One way is to put nonsense in the right place; as when people put nonsense into nursery rhymes. The other is to put nonsense in the wrong place; as when they put it into educational addresses, psychological criticisms, and complaints against nursery rhymes." (ILN 10-15-21)

There is no better tool than a sense of humor to keep a firm footing and avoid slipping into an abyss of despair. I've found that to be true in my life.

Another of my favorites acknowledged the power of humor to overcome adversity: Victor Frankl, renowned Psychiatrist, holocaust survivor and author of "Man's Search for Meaning." He wrote: "I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. Laughing lifted me momentarily. out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable. survivable."

One of the key competencies for cross-cultural adaptation is a "sense of humor." This is not necessarily the ability to tell jokes. Rather, it relates to the ability to laugh at oneself. Not to take yourself too seriously. People who can laugh at themselves have the ability to see things in perspective. They have the ability to learn from their mistakes. That's the true intercultural competence.
Try developing your sense of humor. Slowly at first, in small doses, and in appropriate situations.Become comfortable with yourself. Enjoy the person you're becoming, and be brave enough to admit your personality quirks.

Notice how people react to the new you! They like you better when you're not only sharing negative emotion! They like you more when your being yourself and not trying to impress others with your biased analysis! 

Now, don't get carried away and make yourself look like a clown, but show your listeners you're not a puffed-up grouch, either.

One of life's greatest accomplishments is to learn to like who you see in the mirror. When you're self-assured enough to laugh at yourself, you've made real progress toward that goal.

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