#362 from Innovative
Leader Volume 7, Number 9
Things Can’t Get Any Worse
Ms. Robinson is a human resource consultant in Austin, Texas (phone 512-472-4412), helping organizations implement creativity. She recently produced a video, Bad Times Made Verse, from which this article is adapted.
For many of us,
these days, life seems to be tied to zero-based budgeting.
Thanks to downsizing, outsourcing, political incorrectness or some other form of commercial negativity, our
personal elevators are in the basement and the “up” buttons
just don’t seem to work.
state of affairs can be brought on by many life situations. You could be the manager whose job calls for constant travel,
but your spouse is ailing and your kids are scattered all over the
country. You could be
an up-and-comer who’s been offered a challenging overseas job,
but the country’s climate isn’t compatible with your severe
allergies. You could
have a plum of a new assignment but, for some unfathomable reason,
you can’t grasp its fundamentals.
You could simply have a boss who is pure poison; his day
isn’t made until he’s chewed you out at least once.
For the first time, your executive is a woman, and you’re
not sure how to handle this situation.
reason, you’re feeling stuck.
You’re all but buying stock in Tums.
When your head doesn’t ache, your stomach does.
You feel listless all week, and dread Mondays.
Your drive is gone. Even
folks who don’t know you well keep asking anxiously, “Are you
reason for your continued despondency, nothing you’ve ever tried
seems to work. Well,
I have a suggestion for you—one I can already hear you turning
down or ridiculing. Because
it’s unbelievably simple. Seek
laughter. In any
way you can. In any
amount you can manage: a
chuckle, a giggle, a guffaw.
Any form of
wholesome, self-enjoyed laughter.
Not a self-deprecating, “Ha ha.”
Not sarcastic, smirking amusement.
Not raucous, drunken roars.
Just laughter that’s fun to do and fun to hear.
heard of Dr. Norman Cousins, who cured himself of a
life-threatening disease by looking at funny movies and reading
funny books. Actually
you don’t even have to get out the joke manuals or rent
hilarious videos. You
can just laugh. A really good belly-laugh is like inner jogging.
It is said that fifteen minutes of laughter give you the
relaxing effect of an eight-hour meditation.
Ten minutes of laughter promise you the relaxing effect of
two hours of sleep. Supposedly
this works through the release of the healing elements of the
the One About Crushed Bones?
Believe me, I’m
not speaking from only what I’ve read or heard.
I’ve personally come through one of those
mired-in-the-mud times, myself.
I’ve been a consultant for twenty enjoyable years,
teaching creative thinking, accelerated learning, Mind Mapping,
creative problem solving, intuition and humor in the workplace.
I’ve worked with companies, government agencies and
loved my work and was at the apex of my career.
I was on the boards of international organizations and was
the recipient of some prestigious awards.
I’m not boasting. Just
want you to see where I fell from.
In 1996, the day
before I was to fly abroad to teach a workshop, I fell and broke
my right leg in four places.
A year later, I was progressing quite well and could still
manage my training and speaking engagements.
Additional therapy was prescribed, but turned out to be the
wrong kind—it collapsed my other hip and I was back in the
I tried water
therapy, and just as I was approaching a measure of independence,
I had a hemorrhage from a bleeding ulcer.
lengthy hospitalization, I was permanently in the wheelchair, but
this time with severe arthritis and unable to take
anti-inflammatory drugs because of the ulcer.
Need to Feel Sorry for Me
clients disappeared. My
consulting income went to nearly nothing.
I had to remind myself that I was still phenomenally lucky
that the work I loved had lasted until I was nearly 85.
But this was the Cold Comfort Department speaking.
I was still mentally able, but physically I was a no-show.
(My situation was probably worse than yours, even if you’ve
ended up, through downsizing, in a position you hate.)
I allowed myself
some grieving time. Then
I put my creative hat on. I
decided I needed to go the humor-laughter route.
That’s what I recommended to many of my clients over the
years. So I designed
a presentation that could be done in a wheelchair.
I found a few rhymed comedy skits my twin and I used to do,
and built around them an exhortation to folks to use laughter
to turn misery into merriment, hopelessness into hilarity, groans
into grins. I used
amusing hats and headpieces.
immediately, I was signed up for three performances.
The first two were encouragingly successful; the third was
a smash! In fact, it
seemed to do so many people so much good that I decided to make it
into a video that recently has been completed.
One of the props
I use is a laughter tape, in which a single individual’s
laughter quickly spreads, and in no time at all everyone in the
auditorium is loudly convulsing.
With this example
in mind, I often tell audiences that the right kind of laughter is
the only commodity I know that is both highly contagious
and wonderfully healing.
I’m not saying
that laughter will remove all your obstacles.
But, like dog-paddling, it will help you keep your
discouraged head above the surface in deep water. It
certainly has been a god-send to me.
And it’s fun to share.
At my video
“shoot,” I gave the sixty people there a small, spiral-bound
book titled, “Lasso Laughter.”
On the cover it had a small cowboy with a lariat and the
subtitle, “So You Can Rope and Tie the Funnies You Run Across
While You’re Ridin’ the Range.”
Inside are blank pages titled, “Funny Things I’ve
Heard,” “Funny Things I’ve Said,”
“Funny Things I’ve Seen,”
“Funny Things I’ve Dreamed,” etc.
This is to encourage awareness of humorous things around
you (even if your boss acts like a real jerk).
Two caveats if
you go the laughter route. It
must be real mirth, not hollow or sarcastic.
And it must always be with
and not at.
encouraging you to sweep your cares and problems under the rug.
They, for the most part, are real and must be faced and
dealt with. But
you’ll find the facing more courageous and the dealing more
creative if you add some
hearty laughter to all of your days.