When did you last laugh long and loud? This is in real life, not to a cat video or a comedian. This was the question posed by James Cook, teacher of the stand-up comedy course I'm doing at the Midlands Art Centre. It took me a while to remember, as most of my laughter comes from TV or Facebook videos - sad, but true. What about you?
He then got us to do a little exercise, which I'm passing on to you, as it loosened my perspectives on anger. Think of something you love and write three reasons why you love that thing. Talk to a willing listener for one minute about that thing you love. Chances are you will find it quite easy.
Now, think of a thing that makes you angry, something you could really rant about. Mine was lorries. Write down three reasons why it makes you angry. Then talk to your willing listener for one minute about that thing, BUT change it to why you LOVE this thing and extol the virtues of the three reasons. "Lorries are too big", became "I love how big lorries are, in fact, they should be bigger, take up two lanes of the motorway, so it really keeps you on your toes when they pull out just before a hill. Big lorries mean lots more stuff in them that I can buy, lots of things for retail therapy, lots more jobs created."
My, how we laughed. It was a clever comedic trick, but I saw that when I get hooked by anger, it is about my perspective on an issue and my choice how I emote about it, rather than the external situation/person. I used it yesterday when I was feeling fabulous, until I left the house, and seemed to get driven at by buses and....lorries.
So it is not about not being angry. Anger has started some wonderful charities and movements for good in the world. It is about being angry "with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way" - back to Daniel Goleman and Aristotle's Challenge. And laughter, taking things lightly, changing perspective, may help shake loose our grip on the anger that just winds us up.
If I can help you or your managers understand emotions better, using embodiment, creativity and play, then please feel free to contact me and have a chat. Until 22nd April, I have a special offer of one days training on Emotional Intelligence for half price. Or you could come and see our end of term stand-up comedy show at the MAC on Friday 1st July!