Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do a 180: How to Use Humor to Deal With Change

It’s a fast-paced, constantly changing world that we are living in. Workers today are under constant pressure to stay educated, motivated, and invigorated. And with all of this pressure, they simply want to get intoxicated.

People are overwhelmed with so much going on in the news: the economy, the recession, health plans, the housing bubble, credit default swaps, Ponzy schemes, bailouts, stimulus plans…and don’t forget all the diseases: swine flu, bird flu, moo flu, ox pox, zebra zits.

Everyone is expected to do more with less, and it seems it is not enough to simply “multitask;” now you have to “hypertask.” (“Hypertask” means “working at breakneck speed to look busy and accomplish nothing.”)

There’s always something…
Once you accept that there will always be something amiss in the world, you can begin your journey to a somewhat sane way of living. If you live with the delusion that you can control the world and keep it from changing, then you are on a short jaunt to the crazy farm.

Think about all of the changes that have occurred in our world in just the last 50 years. We’ve moved from Leave It to Beaver, to Hippies, to Disco, to Yuppies, to Hip Hop, to Twittering Twits. When feeling caught up in the frenzy of constant change, remember the phrase that can make a happy person sad, and a sad person happy: This too shall pass.

Laugh about your challenges
We all know that laughter reduces stress and releases endorphins. But laughter can also change your mindset. When you can laugh about your stressors, you are empowered. When you are empowered, you can positively create your reality.

Think about times in your own life that you were upset about a situation and were later able to laugh about it. What changed? You got some distance from the situation.

But you don’t have to wait to laugh. In fact, laughing about a situation can help you to create that healthy distance and dissipate the tension, thus allowing you to think more clearly. Below are some questions to ask yourself to help you move through your challenges with humor:

*How can I look at this differently?
*What is funny about this?
*Where is the irony? The inconsistency?
*How is this sooooo typical?
*What can I rename this?
*How can I reframe it?

By asking these questions, you can begin to shift your state of mind.

Shift your perspective
In the past 12 months we have heard a lot about the economy. Back when things were first starting to heat up, we decided to go out to Dave and Busters. The news channels were all saying that no one was going out—everyone was staying home because of the economy.

So we expected it to be pretty dead at the giant suburban fun-plex. However, when we got there, we circled the parking lot for 10 minutes and couldn’t find a single place to park. We ended up turning around and going back home…because there was no parking due to so many people going out!

We started to notice that this was not an isolated incident. When we were out, we began to video the annoying crowds at the airports and having to wait 30 minutes for a table on a Thursday night at a restaurant. After posting our videos online, we received many positive reviews from people who were happy to view something fresh and positive.

While the news was focused on the drama, we were personally experiencing something quite different. This led us to shift our own perspective from one of panic to one of plenty. When we can change how we view a situation, the circumstances begin to shift. We call this “Doing a 180.”

The bottom line?
Most of us would rather pull our own wisdom teeth out than deal with the uncertainty of change, but one of the best things we can all do is keep our sense of humor. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s cheaper than Prozac. It’s a fast paced, constantly changing world. However, everyday we have a choice in how we deal with it: we can get overwhelmed and frustrated, or we can “Do a 180” and view our challenges with a sense of humor.

Change speakers Tim and Kris O'Shea help organizations deal with change through relevant business humor. To learn more about these funny motivational speakers visit To learn how to bring The O'Shea Report into your meeting or convention, please visit or call 303-371-2849.

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