Sarah’s Health Notes: Finding The Funny In Fury!
Grrrr! Most of us know that moment when our blood boils and we want to throw something. Hard. Very hard. At someone. Or something.
Could be the printer’s given up the ghost when you need that important document. Or the insurance company’s refused to pay on the grounds of an exclusion in the infinitesimal print. A usually good builder leaves a job looking like he just doesn't care. Your nearest and mostly dearest has done the one thing they know irritates you. Or a colleague’s dissed you – yet a-naffing-gain… Could even be something apparently insignificant like being interrupted when you’re trying to frame a sentence or explain a feeling. (Just fyi: these didn't all happen to me, thank goodness, but to people I know.)
How do you deal with it? Or not deal with it. What’s the best way to manage the situation – whether it’s practical or psychological - so you emerge feeling okay, rather than your blood pressure going off the Richter scale, having a row, smashing something, or waking up in the night fuming with the ‘why didn't I say that?’ tape going remorselessly round and round in your brain.
Unless you’re some kind of saint or super person, there might be an element of wanting punishment, retribution and/or an apology. Problem is that demands action from the other party. Realistically you won’t get an apology from the printer, and don't count on anything satisfactory from the builder.
But the real thing is to assess how you will feel better. I have a scrappy little card stuck to my computer with this question: ‘Why have a bad day when you can have a good day?’ It was given to me many years ago by a leading US dermatologist Dr Howard Murad and has moved houses a couple of times. Dr Murad told me that offering his patients one of a range of little cards with messages like this did more for them than any skincare or medicaments.
Under the question is this paragraph: ‘Having a wonderful day or a terrible day is less a matter of circumstances that it is of choice. You can choose to have a good day – or not. It’s entirely up to you. This may be the most important simple truth you’ll encounter and it’s the heart of my philosophy. Always try to focus on good things instead of negative ones.’
Earlier this year, Sid Madge, founder of the Meee Programme which runs workshops to help people believe in who they are, sent through a list of tips for better relationships. The one that got me instantly was ‘finding the funny in those angry moments’. It wouldn't make the insurance company pay up or punish the person who hurt my feelings but it cools the ‘hot thoughts’, as one therapist terms them. And simply deciding to see the funny in a situation sets you on a different path. You can brain swerve the negative stuff and, if relevant and appropriate, map a practical positive response. (Or do nothing, at least for the moment.)
Sid Madge calls these mental shifts ‘micro moments’. These give us the ability to change our life in any moment, he says, and then use these ‘tiny manageable interventions’ to shift our perception from negative to positive. They apply in life, family and work – pretty well any situation.
To me, the astonishing thing is that once I’ve decided to have a good day and to find the funny in fury, I stop being cross pretty well immediately. And get on with my day.
There are many lovely quotes about the power of laughter (see the laughteronlineuniversity.com). Here’s some that float my boat:
- Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh. — W. H. Auden
- As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul. — A Jewish Proverb
- As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it. — Lao Tsu
- A good laugh is sunshine in the house. — William Thackeray
- Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine. — Lord Byron