Humor Defuses Stress: The Wizard of Laughter
Often times when I’m in the midst of a stressful situation I vent my frustrations in the voice of a famous person, cartoon character or a particular accent. You might call me crazy but since I’m good at it and enjoy doing impressions, the result is that the tension dissipates, my mood changes, and I’m able to find enjoyment in the moment and bounce back. It doesn’t matter if I’m alone or with others, it works every time.
One evening, after a twelve hour rehearsal, I was driving home from the city anticipating a relaxing evening at home. I was in a great mood having just spent the day playing the Cowardly Lion in a business parody of The Wizard of Oz. But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
There was construction on the Long Island Expressway, otherwise known as the Worlds Biggest Parking Lot. It would be hours before I would reach my long awaited destination. The probability of spending quality time at home with my wife was not in my favor.
My good mood was fading fast and my frustration was slowly but surely turning into anger. Now, I don’t know what came over me, but suddenly I had the urge to vent and began shouting out obscenities in the voice of Lion from The Wizard of Oz. The thought of the Lion swearing like a truck driver made me laugh.
Traffic was at a complete standstill and it was obvious that people were getting agitated. To make matters worse, some of the drivers were moving onto the shoulder of the road and then trying to conveniently force their way back in line. This is something New Yorkers don’t take lightly.
Tempers were flaring, horns were sounding, and people were cursing and making all kinds of hand gestures. As all of this is taking place, I’m behind the wheel of my car, motioning to the other drivers (as the Cowardly Lion). “Grrah, grraha, aha, aha, ahaaaa, I’m afraid! I wanna go home! I wanna go home! Everybody is cutting ahead! I don’t like traffic. I wanna go home! Ahaa, ahaa, Haa!”
Humor is subjective and you may not find this funny, but if you had seen the expressions on the faces of those I passed I guarantee you would have laughed. I could only imagine what they were thinking or saying. “Don’t look at him honey!” “Lock the door and look straight ahead!” “What’s wrong with that guy? No, don’t look at him. He’s not right!” “I’ll bet he’s some kind of pervert. He’s probably naked from the waist down!” “Please! Just look straight ahead and keep driving.”
While you might think I’m nuts and anyone witnessing my crazy antics might agree, at least I know I will be going home to my family or to a client meeting or making an important decision in a GOOD mood. In fact, my energy level is cranked. Why? Because I am able to change my state of mind.
I’m actually going from a bad mood to a good one, just by choosing to make a slight shift to see the humor in a tough situation and allowing myself the freedom to laugh. In my view, this Common-Sense-Success-Strategy needs to be embraced by people in all walks of life, both personally and professionally.
Choosing to defuse a stressful situation with humor is the fastest way I know to bounce back and acquire the attitude you need to succeed while enjoying the process. I guess this is one of the reasons why people call me a Funny Motivational Speaker, or in this case, the Wizard of Laughter!
Steve Rizzo is the Attitude Adjuster. You can’t attend one of his keynote speeches, seminars, or read his books and leave with the same attitude. He’s a personal development expert, motivational business speaker, corporate-comedian and best-selling author. It’s no surprise that Steve is also a Hall Of Fame Speaker Inductee. An honor bestowed upon on fewer than 200 speakers worldwide since 1977.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights. I welcome all comments.