Trumping Hard Times with Laughter
September 11, 2009
While talking with my sister on the phone yesterday, she made me laugh for a full 90 seconds. She was conveying something rather serious and power-of-slow-related about how annoyed she gets when people show up late to lunch dates.
“Your coming late by twenty minutes might mean I don’t eat.”
It struck a funny bone, and I couldn’t stop hooting about it. It was the way in which she said it. Dead-pan, and so true.
We often get caught in the swirl of our lives, regrettably late to appointments that might mean we get to eat. Or not.
The work-life balance poll I conducted earlier this week shows people are on the fence with the entire notion. While many said their lifestyle has improved over 2008, many say there is no such thing as work-life balance.
Dr. Susan Fletcher, a psychologist in private practice, author, CEO of 2 companies (Smart Zone Solutions being one of them), wife and mother of 3 children, is a great person to ask about work-life issues. While I myself believe work and life are not separate and distinct, we are at our best when we live in harmony with all aspects of our lives.
When asked how one can live powerfully in the face of today’s economic crisis, Dr. Fletcher writes:
- Use technology to connect to people – not to disconnect. According to scientist Alvin Weinberg, “Technology makes it easier and easier to disconnect from other people, and from ourselves.” Remember that human interaction can boost your mood. Make it a rule that if an email is more than 2 paragraphs that you will pick up the phone and call instead.
- Finish what you start. Research shows that when we are disciplined and deliberate with projects that it has an 18% positive effect on happiness. It’s not always easy to be conscientious and finish a large task – but we feel better about ourselves when we have the sense of accomplishment.
- Share a silly moment. “Laughter may be the shortest distance between 2 brains,” says Daniel Goleman in his book Social Intelligence. Think of the immediate sense of closeness you get with someone when you share a nice hearty laugh. For that moment it’s like you are in sync with each other’s thoughts. (Editor’s Note: As a parenting humorist, I find this one to be the most powerful!)
- Know what makes others happy. Powerful people are attuned to the emotions of others. Try these ideas: Headed to meet with a client? When you grab yourself a cup of coffee on the way to the meeting buy one for your client also. Did you eat lunch out today? Order an extra dessert to bring back for a co-worker or neighbor. Spent a few days out of the office where your co-workers had to cover for you? Bring them back a small gift from your time away – it can just be a pen from the hotel or a whimsical trinket from the airport gift shop.
- Smile. You can actually trick your brain’s neurotransmitters into thinking you are happy with a smile. When you smile at people they typically smile back – it’s a natural reflex to mimic the facial expressions of others. If you are in a bad rut, clench a pencil in your teeth and you will force your face into a smile. This will subtly evoke a positive feeling. Try it!
- Don’t gripe and moan! No one wants to hang out with a whiner. If you want to survive in today’s economy you must accept change with a smile and determine how you can contribute to making the change successful.
- Don’t hold on to the carpet. You’ve heard the phrase, “eye on the prize” or “begin with the end in mind.” If you’ve ever had the carpet pulled out from underneath you then you know change can be unexpected and unwelcome. Early in Susan’s career, her job at a hospital was eliminated due to budget cuts. Unwelcomed and unexpected, it turned out to be one of the most important learning experiences of her life. Discomfort is a fine teacher.
No kidding. I’d watch out for the chewing pencil technique, though. Make sure it’s a rubber one!