This week’s theme is your mental health. Each week we’ll explore a single topic that impacts the lives of small business owners. Usually, the topics apply to executives and leaders in most any arena. You’re smart. You can make the application as it suits you. I’m just here to help you figure it out.
Mental health professionals continue to see alarming increases in clinical depression. The use of antidepressants has doubled since the 80s. Young people, old people and all those in between are more prone to feeling depressed in 2019 than in years past. Some speculate that it’s our pace and all the push/pulls of technology in our lives. Others point out the damage of false expectations set up by social media where we busy ourselves comparing ourselves. I’m not a scientist so I’m not able to speculate with any valid insights about depression. Even so, I certainly have seen plenty of anecdotal evidence that all those factors (and others) likely play a part.
I see people wrestling with all the confusion and contradiction that surrounds us. On one hand, we hear people yelling about inclusion and tolerance while simultaneously being completely intolerant. We see people given second chances while others are vilified without so much as a fair hearing. We have people behaving poorly while Instagram models embrace lasciviousness.
Largely, we’re a society that preaches one thing and does something different.
From excess to minimalism we’re surrounded by advice that we should grab all we can, work as hard as we can, spend more time at work…or live frugally, save as much as we can, live off the grid and enjoy nature.
Build the business as big as possible. Versus create something small, but meaningful.
Big houses versus tiny houses. Large luxury automobiles versus small, electric cars. YouTube channels and Instagram profiles chasing millions of followers. Ditching social media altogether, choosing to remain as anonymous as possible.
Life at the extremes. It’s taking a toll on all of us. Even if you claim you don’t want to participate, you’re still living in the society and culture impacts you.
Depressed people often can’t remember the last time they laughed out loud.
These same people may easily say “yes” when asked, “Do you have a good sense of humor?” Have you ever met a person who admits they lack a good sense of humor? Me neither.
When people are gloomy, sullen, or stubborn and harsh — ask them to tell you about the last time they laughed out loud. If that’s their typical demeanor they’ll likely have a tough time with the challenge.
When I was a child I’d sometimes thumb through my grandparent’s copy of Reader’s Digest. Each edition had a joke or funny section about laughter being the best medicine. Sometimes the content would make me smile. Other times not so much. But I was a kid. What I did understand was that laughter did improve our lives. I couldn’t have imagined life without it. Even more so now that I’m older.
Why would we talk about our growth as leaders and business owners by focusing on laughter? Because it’s important. And because in too many instances it’s missing. Our lives aren’t improved by being stoic, reserved and humorless.
This human condition is hard. For all of us. To laugh at ourselves and the circumstances we wrestle with is to acknowledge our humanity. We don’t have all the answers. We’re all still working to figure it out. So many things are out of our control it makes us feel ridiculously stupid. And here we are getting out of bed day after day to give it another go.
Emotions. Some say there’s no place for them in business. Or any other serious-minded endeavor. Hooey!
Head and heart. They go together. There’s no separating them.
Courage isn’t just head stuff. Or heart stuff. Neither is humor.
Highs and lows typify all our lives. Tears. Laughter. All those in-between things, too.
Living demands courage. Courage requires laughter. Especially the ability to see the absurdity in our lives, and our own stumbling and bumbling our way toward whatever success awaits us. It’s not only courageous, but it’s also healing.
John Prine is a favorite singer/songwriter. One of my favorite lines is in his song, Far From Me.
Well, ya know, she still laughs with me
But she waits just a second too long.
Laughter is life stuff. Real.
The lack of laughter, or in John’s case with a girl who broke his heart – the timing of the laughter – speaks to the lack of light or optimism in life. Why let the darkness overrun us? We’ve got too much to be thankful for, too much yet to accomplish and too many people to impact. And too many more laugh out loud moments in which to shine.
Be well. Do good. Grow great.
And laugh out loud today. Often.