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Humor: My Teachable Moment

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At any moment in time, things can happen that will disrupt our day. But we can learn valuable insights during such times. Disruptions can become profound teachable moments. Such an event occurred to me.

I was washing clothes, preparing for our family to leave the following day on a camping trip. The water flow going into my washing machine was exceedingly slow. I had been improvising by attaching a hose from my laundry tub faucet to my washing machine to fill it.

When the phone rang in our office, I didn’t bother to shut off the faucet, thinking I would only be a minute.

But the call was about business and took more time than anticipated. Someone wanted to hire our band and in answering questions and gathering important details, the washing machine totally escaped my mind. But as soon as I hung up the phone, I suddenly remembered I had left the water running.

Humor: My Teachable Moment | focuswithmarlene.com

Panicked, I dashed into the kitchen and saw with horror the water happily gurgling out of a very full washing machine onto my floor, flooding the laundry room which adjoined my kitchen, as well as the kitchen. In a recent remodel, we had installed kitchen carpet, which was the rage at that time, to both the kitchen and our laundry room. It was saturated and pooling on top.

I shut off the faucet and stood there appalled, thinking about all the things that needed to be done before leaving the following day.

How would I clean up this mess on top of packing?

It wasn’t just the carpet that needed to have the water removed and dried, but also boxes of sewing materials stacked at the end of the laundry room with contents that had to be taken out and dried.

It was at this precise moment when my husband opened the door from the garage and stepped into the laundry room and stopped short as he looked first at the floor and then at me.  As was his nature, he immediately saw the absurdity and humorous side of the situation.

I remember thinking as I looked at him, don’t you dare laugh. It is not funny. If you had fixed that water pressure problem weeks ago, I wouldn’t be in this situation. Blah, blah, blah.

But I didn’t say it, because the very next second I received a thunderbolt revelation. I could either remain angry or I could laugh. I had a choice. I could see the funny side. Either way the job needed to be done. But with humor it would make the job much easier.

I vividly remember how my whole demeanor and body changed when I made the decision to see humor versus engage in anger. I learned a valuable lesson in that moment.

Events do not have to dictate our reactions. There might be an immediate visceral response, but we can then choose a different one.

Humor and laughter are powerful antidotes to the adversities of life. We can choose to laugh at ourselves and circumstances or become mired in resentments. We can make the job easier or more difficult.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

-Marcus Aurelius

As a former therapist and someone committed to helping people find ways to live more enthusiastic and productive lives, I love to share how something as simple as humor can make a huge difference in our approach to circumstances. We often dismiss things like humor and laughter by saying, “Well, that’s nice, but I have more serious problems to face.”

Laughter and humor are more than just temporary interludes to lighten the moment. They enable us to take a breath, step back and look at problems from a larger perspective.

They take “mountains” and reduce them to “mole hills” we can walk over. Mountains can seem formidable. How can I ever get past that? Our problems suddenly become insurmountable. There is no way to solve them. And you feel exhausted before you even begin to look for answers.

We can walk over or around smaller hills. When we view a problem as a huge mountain, it takes away our ability to see anything positive. Hills are just part of life’s journey.

In next week’s post, I will share ways to make humor and laughter a way of life – not just some rare occasion.

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