Don't get mad, get funny!
Our days are full of stressful situations. We're bothered by little things like that moron who just cut you off in traffic or that doofus with 73 items in the "eight items or less" express line at the grocery store (no, 35 packages of toilet paper are NOT "one item"). We're bothered by big things like the World Trade Center towers collapsing during the "9/11" terrorist attacks of 2001.
The anger from all that can build and build until it literally kills you. Why let it? Don't get mad, get funny!
I've discovered I can not stay angry at anything or anyone I am laughing at. So, when stressfull events and people attack me, I fight back with humor. My life changed profoundly when I learned the mechanics of how to write humor.
One of the best resources I found for that is Melvin Helitzer's book Comedy Writing Secrets
Case in point. Many years ago I worked for American Airlines. My boss' boss collected his management team and senior technicians into a conference room to begin the annual budget process. Most of us had been through these firedrills before. We knew it was the early stages of a painful marathon of long work hours, little sleep, working well into the "wee hours of the morning". The stress in that room was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Boss' boss drew a graph on a white board. One line represented our budget, another line our actual expenses. He drew a small triangle between the lines, the greek "delta" symbol that mathematicians use to indicate difference. He began ranting on and on about our needing to reduce the delta, do this to the delta, do that to the delta, delta this, delta that, delta, delta, delta. Finally I'd heard enough and blurted out "I hope Delta gets us there!" (which paraphrased the advertising slogan of Delta Airlines, one of our fiercest competitors).
A hush fell over the room. People started exchanging nervous glances. Then they started snickering and giggling. You could just feel the stress draining out of that room. Everyone received a much needed "stress buster" and felt a lot better ... everyone except my boss' boss -- he had steam coming out of his ears. Oh well, can't please everyone.
Another example. Several years ago some moron cut me off in traffic, almost causing an accident. That happened around the time I'd been reading the Grace Commission Report on government waste, seeing some of the ludicrously stupid ways government wastes a LOT of our tax dollars. I asked myself "What idiot came up that?". Then "bing" it hit me! I'll show everyone that idiot! Thus from combining those two events was born an original "Tall Tale" that won Toastmasters speech contests at the Club, Area, Division, and District levels of competition. Not only did I get funny instead of mad, I used it to entertain hundreds of other people and earn a reputation for being funny in the process.
Good resources for existing humor:
- Any Dilbert book by Scott Adams If you work in corporate America, Dilbert is a "must read". If you are considering working in corporate America, Dilbert will warn you of the pitfalls that lie ahead.
- Any Farside book by Gary Larson Gary has wonderfully wierd perspectives about just about anything. Unfortunately, he is no longer publishing new "FarSide" cartoons. If you find you really like FarSide, Gary published all his FarSide cartoons in a 2 volume boxed set: The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set)
- www.comics.com provides their subscribers access to MANY comic strips on-line
- www.cagw.org is a fun site if you want to laugh at the really stupid ways our government wastes money (or cry when you realize it's YOUR tax dollars being wasted). Check out their "Pig Book".
Some of the comedy writing resources I like:
Humor is a critical skill for managing your stress levels.
Also, if you do any professional speaking, is using humor important? Only if you want to get paid.
How have you used humor to diffuse anger? What resources have you found for humor?