By MARILYN TAM
What a month it’s been! I thought it would be relatively quiet with less travel than usual, a chance to clean up my office and home. Here we are close to the end of the month and I’m finally sending you my monthly note. Can you guess what it’s about? You’re smart; you read the subject line – Stress and how to use it instead of being abused by it.
One thing that gobbled up most of one week for me was CNN’s Piers Morgan. Well, not Piers exactly, but his team contacted me to be interviewed by him about the Malaysian Airline’s #370 disaster.
I have the dubious distinction of experiencing a similar situation in my life when my father died in the crash of JAL flight #123 in 1985. Piers wanted me to share how to recover from unexpected catastrophes. CNN set up the satellite broadcast truck in my driveway, prepped me and the house for the shoot, and then postponed the interview half an hour before show time. They re-scheduled for the next day, and the next and on and on for an entire week, and then Piers went off the air.
Show Biz, now I know. CNN did publish my Op-Ed piece on the subject so you can read the tips on how to regain balance and learn to be happy again after deep pain and grief at www.cnn.com/2014/03/28/opinion/tam-flight-370/index.html.
Stress is prevalent in today’s world, how we deal with it determines whether we are motivated or are reduced by it. Laughter helps; it defuses tension and helps us find the humor and irony in the circumstances. My Huffington Post blog on this follows below. What about you? How do you manage stress in your life? Please share with me at [email protected] and I’ll add your tips to next month’s email.
Stressed? Laugh It Away
If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it. — George Burns
Almost everyone I meet lately talks about how stressed they feel, and how anxious and tense they are; and I catch myself nodding in agreement at times. How do we deal with the escalating demands on our time, energy and resources without a growing sense of tension and overwhelm? Laugh it away.
Hah, you say, “Easy for you, I have good reasons to be stressed, you just don’t understand”. Well, I do. I’ve been there more than once. A deadline is coming up, and my work is not completed due to something out of my control: my Internet connection breaks down and/or my computer system goes AWOL. Or I’m in a heated discussion and I’m feeling completely not understood.
Stressed? Yes, with a capital “S”. What to do then? Find something funny about the situation and have a good laugh. Engage the other party in the humor if appropriate. Laughter interrupts the pressure and gives you a chance to take a step back to see possible ways of resolving the stress.
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. — Jean Houston
Laughter has proven to be powerful medicine for mental and physical health and healing. From Norman Cousin’s laughter cure of himself from an autoimmune disease in the 1970’s onward, we have had many documented cases of people getting physical healing from laughter. And with stress being one of the main causes of disease now, it’s important for us to remember to laugh when we are stressed. But how?
When we are stretched taut with tension, it’s hard to think of anything funny. As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to remember you are there to drain the swamp when you are wrestling with alligators”. Fortunately in our world, the alligators are usually only in our minds, so it is possible for us to step back, take a deep breath and wonder how this crisis would look to us five or ten years from now. That can help us put the issue in perspective and that it’s not end of the world after all, and we can even laugh about how wound up we’ve become over it.
Then you can use the tools I’ve written about before in my Huffington Post blog, “How to Survive and Thrive Through Life’s Changes”: PAGDE – Pause, Assess, Gather information, come to consensus and Decide, and then Execute. And of course laugh heartily along the way!
• Pause – take a deep breath, then another and then another. Repeat until you feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins begin to slow down. If you have to remove yourself from the immediate surroundings temporarily to regain composure, do so if at all possible. Whatever the impending change, it will benefit from your taking a mini time out so that you can gain some perspective before you say or do something you may regret.
• Assess – what are the true dimensions of the issue? Who, what, when and how? Whether you are initiating the process or not, ask the same questions with no judgment and with an open mind.
• Gather — why did this happen, is this a natural life process or is this something that was precipitated by outside circumstance? What are the possible solutions and the consequences of the various options and action steps? Involve all relevant parties as much as possible.
• Come to consensus and Decide — based on the above information; determine the appropriate next steps to resolve the issue and to prevent new ones if applicable. Always keep your life purpose and ultimate mission in mind in your consideration – how does this line up with what you most value?
• Execute — resolve the challenge with commitment and the comfort that together you have assessed, analyzed and come up with the best solution for all concerned. Repeat any of the above steps as needed as you proceed; the situation can change and you have to be prepared to adjust to the circumstances. Give thanks for the lessons; each big change is a step in our life journey and also an occasion for growth and increased capacity for joy and compassion.
Laugh, and find the humor in what’s making you tense. In every situation there is irony, and something funny that can help shift your perspective and allow for more creativity and resolution. Indeed, laughter is the cure for stress and for what ails us.
[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. — Mark Twain
I have more news to share! In the next few weeks, my radio show webpage, www.fmgradio.com/show/marilyntam/ will be redone. The redesigned page will offer more information and ways to connect. We are revising the Products page on my website too, soon we will be able to offer you my book, “The Happiness Choice” and several eBooks and mp3’s of the best of my Huffington Post blogs and the radio show interviews on the website. Of course you can get my books in hard cover, ebook and audio format now from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold. Please let me know what you think, I love hearing from you. Till soon again, have a grace filled time.
Please check out my new book, “The Happiness Choice” at www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118493168
(now available also as an audio book)
and at www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-happiness-choice-marilyn-tam/1113611751.
Marilyn Tam is an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation. www.MarilynTam.com