Picture your life as a measuring tape: The left end represents the day you were born; the right, the day you “transition” from this life. Now, mentally cut that tape at the spot that would represent today. Many of you will notice, like me, that even if you hope to live to 100… the left-hand side is longer than the right. Sobering visual, right?
We have one life. One measuring tape. One long movie inside which we will live, and we are the directors. It can be a drama, tear-jerker, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, or comedy. I’m determined to direct a comedy. And for me, that’s not very hard to do because I do a lot of silly stuff. I’m clumsy, a bad driver, forgetful. I snore when I sleep. I leave my purse, wallet, or cell phone somewhere at least once a month. I’m always telling stories and, in the process, knocking a glass of something all over the table and on those around me on a pretty consistent basis. There’s plenty to laugh at in my life for sure.
There’s a ton of research over the last 10 years which concludes that smiling and laughing adds positively to our physical and emotional wellness as well as extending our life. It’s always our choice whether to have fun and to find the fun (and the funny) in what we’re doing. Having fun for me means I must enjoy what I’m doing and the people with whom I’m doing it.
About ten years ago I took my first Labor Day trip up to Tom’s rustic mountain cabin near Lake Tahoe. On the way, at 6:00 pm on a Thursday night, in the middle of nowhere in the hot, dry, tree-less California desert, the engine on my car fried. Burned up. Toast.
We rode 50 miles in an un-air-conditioned tow truck to the nearest town with a motel, repair shop and Avis Rent-a-Car. In many ways, it was not pleasant. But, if I just looked through a different lens, it was also fun and funny. The tow truck driver was an adorable, shy, nearly deaf man who had somehow learned how to whistle to the blaring radio without any teeth. His oil-stained hands tapped out a beat on his grimy steering wheel, and he winked at every female he talked to including me. He practically screamed into his handheld radio as he communicated to the female tow truck dispatcher, “Angie, I’m bringing two California folks whose car blew up on the side of the road to you, and they need you to put off that happy hour you’re headed to so they can rent a car.” As we held on for dear life, bouncing around in the cab of the tow truck which seemed to have no shocks at all… we couldn’t help but laugh at the comic feel of it all.
Finding out that it would be 8-10K and 3 weeks to fix it meant that my plans to buy a new car after the first of the year had just been “moved up.” Even though the news was unexpected and had disrupted our plans, I was lucky enough to be traveling with someone who could immediately find the humor and the adventure in it all, kept it all moving, and quickly got us in a really cool rental car and tooling through the mountains on to our destination. Soon we were singing to the XM radio, making jokes, kidding around, having fun. A lot of fun. What were our choices? We couldn’t do anything about what had happened, but we absolutely could refuse to allow it to suck the fun out of our plans and out of our day.
This is our life. Right now. Not tomorrow. Not after the first of the year. Not when winter’s over. Right now. If you’re not having fun… at work, at home, in the shower, in the car… stop it. It’s ALWAYS your choice to make whatever you’re doing lighter, easier, and more fun. So, get crackin’ on those silly jokes, tickle your kids, tease your lover, smile and laugh more at work and at home. Bring a funny video to play at your huddle tomorrow and kick off your day with some deep, tear-producing belly laughs… and just see how good you and your team feel and how much better your day is. (We provided a couple just to get you started at the bottom of this Stretch.)
This is your only job this week: Have a ball! Have a blast! Laugh your butt off! You’ve got one shot at this… so make it fun!
“Unless each day can be looked back upon by an individual
as one in which he has had some fun, some joy,
some real satisfaction, that day is a loss.”