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How to Use Laughter to Loosen a Problems’ Grip

1 Jul 2008

How to Use Laughter to Loosen a Problems’ Grip

Picture This

My car was surrounded by intimidating men and women dressed in army camouflage. With serious, intense expressions they really meant business. We were all silent. But when I decided to use laughter in the situation …  I got the giggles.

How to use laughter to loosen a problems grip.

The people wearing camouflage gear were controlling the traffic outside an event we’d attended in Auckland, NZ. Camouflage is supposed to minimise the risk of you being seen – to hide you! It seemed confusing. Many of the traffic controllers were obviously confused too, because on top of their camouflage gear some wore day-glow orange jackets! Obviously they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be seen or not!

The Implications

My mind drifted to visualising various implications of wearing camouflage to direct traffic. Weird and wonderful newspaper headlines flashed into my mind: “Unseen Traffic Controllers Run Over By Motorists.” “Traffic Controllers Ignored As Auckland Traffic Comes To A Standstill (again).”

My passenger and I kept ourselves amused

We bounced around ideas of how wearing camouflage could get you into trouble. Like, how someone could walk into you and knock you over because you seemed invisible. Or that a dog could mistake you for a tree and – you know what! Or, how you would actually find camouflage trousers if your wanted to buy some! We managed to come up with many funny ideas about the dangers of wearing camouflage in a big city!

Comedians Use This Technique And so Can you

In any situation you can choose your response. Choosing an amusing response can be a better choice. Comedians often use these funny twists on simple daily observations to make you laugh. And you can use the same techniques to reframe problems and feel lighter about resolving them. Think about how you can use laughter.

Why Seeing The Funny Side Is Important

Identifying what is funny about a situation stimulates your mind to think laterally. This lateral thinking process (also called reframing in NLP) is useful when you’re coaching someone – including yourself – through a difficulty. If you can find a funny way of thinking about the situation, it can seem a lot less intimidating. Laughter robs the problem of its power so it has less of a grip over you. You feel more relaxed. When you’re more relaxed you generate creative solutions you wouldn’t have come up with in a stressed state.

Increasing Mental Flexibility

The more you can use laughter in this way, the more you increase the odds of noticing other things that are funny. You become more flexible in your thinking. You develop an agile brain (now that conjures up interesting images).

But You Can’t Always use laughter

People have said that you can’t laugh at everything because some things are serious. But often laughing at a situation or consciously looking for a humorous aspect is the best thing to do. When you can’t change the situation itself, you can still change your response to it. Instead of feeling miserable, apply a little creativity and come up with a new angle, a new and funny way of thinking about it.

How about this for a quick thinking reframe from a florist:

A woman received flowers upon the reopening of her shop in a new location. The card read, “Rest in Peace.”

The owner was angry and called the florist to complain. After she had told the florist of the obvious mistake and how angry she was, the florist replied, “I’m really sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting angry, you should imagine this: somewhere there is a funeral taking place today, and they have flowers with a note saying, ‘Congratulations on your new location.'”

All of a sudden, the problem doesn’t seem such a big issue!

Exploit the Situation

So, if you’re ever surrounded by intimidating people, whether wearing camouflage or not, it will pay dividends if you can think laterally and notice a funny way to exploit the situation – but maybe try not to laugh out loud!

  • Stressful situations and problems are a fact of life.
  • You can choose your response.
  • Looking for the funny side will loosen the grip of the problem and help you get into a better state, from where you can generate solutions.
  • Regularly looking to use laughter in everyday situations will increase your mental flexibility.
  • You can find something funny – a way to use laughter – in even the most dire situations.