Why it is important to be able to laugh at yourself
If you want to influence someone, make them feel the complete opposite of what they are feeling right now. If they are angry, make them laugh somehow. If sad, then again, make them laugh. And bam! They are into you. Something significant happens when someone’s emotional state is shifted suddenly and rapidly. It feels hypnotic. We feel drawn toward the things, persons that/who shift our mood instantly.
Amygdala is the part of the brain that receives emotional drifts. Amygdala is the most primitive part of our brain that allows us to remember feeling something in a certain place or phase. It is the part of the brain that is responsible for the automatic responses and snap judgments we make. Amygdala hardly reasons with careful logic, it just remembers the feeling and causes us (humans) to respond to the feeling.
When you explain your misery and at the same time, you laugh about the drama of it all, that is what you do to the other person. You have them hooked (toward you). And since the amygdala doesn’t question too much, before they even know it, they are attracted to you. Having a sense of humor goes a long way when it comes to influencing others and even yourself.
Grief is an unproductive emotion
Corporates know it very well. Some even have a job title like “Grief Expert” in their HR Department!
Another favorite movie of mine “Terminator 3” had a dialogue that was somewhat an inspiration for this article. “Anger is more useful than despair.”
Luckily youtube has the scene cut out for you
You get the idea.
Any emotion but despair is useful. Comedy is clearly more productive than grief.
One of my favorite movies “Shawshank Redemption” had a dialogue that really hit me. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Learning to move on and get on with your life is the best thing you can give yourself. “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl
A highly effective person refuses to wallow or whine
One of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is they gain control over the things they have control over, rather than whinnying over the things that are not really in their control. They choose to focus on the things that are in their control instead of sweating over the things that are not in their control.
Certain things about you and your life are beyond your control. They are not within your purview.
Having a sense of humor gives you a sense of control.
Being helpless and vulnerable to so many things that are far beyond your control, you feel a psychological lack of control.
And a human has to practice control at things to satisfy his or her need of being in control. A person with anxiety is found to be overeating. Why? Because when you are anxious, you feel fear. It becomes a regular emotion that you don’t know how to control. You don’t get to practice control. So often you will find yourself practicing control at counterintuitive things. Overeating is just that.
All this sermon is just a fancy explanation of the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Not taking things personally
By laughing at your most embarrassing, dumb story, you give yourself a subconscious message “It’s not about you. It’s just life.” You laugh at the drama of it all, disassociate yourself from the cause. This is the 101 coping mechanism for not taking things personally.
TEDx speaker Frederik Imbo put this term really well.
He argues that for a person to be able to not take things personally, they must remember these 3 things.
Number 1: Know that it is not about you (Not that you deserve this). It is the circumstances or environment that is causing the other person to mistreat you.
Number 2: You don’t get offended by the words that you think are untrue. In fact, you only get offended by the words that you know, deep inside, are true.
For instance, if you are skinny as hell, and someone calls you fat, do you take it personally?
No. Because –
- a) You know that the person simply doesn’t know what s/he is talking about
- b) You know that there is no way it (the fact that you are fat) is true.
Number 3: If it really is about you (the fact that you are at fault and accountable for what happened), accept it, and give yourself empathy.
Remind yourself why (and how) you turned out to be the way you are and know that it’s not your fault.
By being able to humor about the unpleasant events,
- You give yourself empathy (rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you)
- You cut yourself some slack
- You acknowledge your pain and misery
- You give words to your sufferings (in a way, through humor)
This is the right way to move on, without taking things personally.
Stepping on the toes of your hater
Also, when you can humor on your shortcomings or painful past, you kind of step on the toes of your haters. By criticizing yourself, you practically do their job for them and subtly steal their thunder. You get comfortable being uncomfortable. And when you would have gotten yourself that particular skill of being comfortable with the criticism, you would piss off a lot of people. Trust me on this one.
“Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.
I practically trained a friend of mine to develop a sense of humor. I suggested to him that we would promise each other to invent at least one amusing story daily, about some incident that could happen one day after our liberation. …
The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size’’ of human suffering is absolutely relative.”
- – Viktor E. Frankl, excerpt from Man’s Search for Meaning
1) YouTube: Ted Talk: How not to take things personally?
2) YouTube: “Don’t TAKE Things PERSONALLY!” – Bill Gates :
3) My favorite movies :
- a) Shawshank Redemption
- b) Good Will Hunting
- c) Terminator 3
4) Books :
- a) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- b) Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- c) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
5) Harvard Business Review Article: When a Colleague Is Grieving