My friend Bill Schabel is a top trainer for Southern Company. He knew what a valuable tool humor is to help people remember, relax, and understand his information, but he wasn’t convinced about it being a stress-management tool. He told me, “Sometimes you’ve just got to get mad and yell — just get it all out.”
But do you, really? Anger, like fear, stimulates your hypothalamus and Pituitary. Your adrenals rush to produce noradrenalin and adrenaline, which, with other hormones, are released into your body, creating the “fight or flight syndrome” from old cavemen days — except that your mind doesn’t know if it’s a saber-toothed tiger coming or just Dick from Accounting.
Bill called me recently and said, “Jeff, you’re gonna love this one! I’m driving downtown, and I’ve got a female client with me I’ve never met before. Suddenly, this jerk cuts me off — I almost wrecked my car! I finally get my car under control, and I look up. This moron is giving me, shall we say, the high sign! Now, I have a whole litany of things to say when something happens, but I couldn’t because this woman was in the car with me.”
Bill’s favorite program when he was a little kid was “Gumby.” Remember that? He was green and bendable — okay, remember the Eddie Murphy spoof on Saturday Night Live? Anyhow, Bill told me, “I don’t know where it came from, but I just found myself saying, ‘Well, he didn’t seem very friendly, did he, Pokey?’” He and the lady laughed all the way downtown.
Bill said, “Before, when something like that happened to me, I would flash back on it five or six times a day — and every time, I’d get madder. This time, whenever I remembered it, I laughed harder.” Because he could see it differently, a negative situation had a positive impact on him. By conscious effort, we can actually decide whether things have a positive or negative effect on us.
A friend of mine got a traffic ticket he felt he didn’t deserve ten years ago on I-85 in Atlanta. To this day, every time we drive past that point, he shakes his fist and yells, “That’s it! That’s where it happened!” Hey, man, let it go —come back to the light. Or, get madder and madder. Tie yourself in knots. Really punish that guy — I’ll bet your stomach acid is killing him!
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