I was watching a recent episode of American idol (episode three I believe), and if you watch the show you probably have noticed they don’t put as many interesting and bizarre tryouts on there as they used to. None the less, they still share great stories and have interesting personalities trying out.
In this one episode in particular, this authentic Sicilian Italian New Yorker named Sal Valentinetti (I mean straight out of the Sopranos), walked into the try out room with his fancy suite, thick northern accent, and confidence. He oozed everything Frank Sinatra, and ironically enough he sang the Frank Sinatra song “Fly me to the Moon”. He sang every word as naturally and charming as the original singer. The music genre came very naturally to him.
However one of the judges, Harry Connick Junior commented “I don’t think you are what we are looking for today in regards to American Idol”.
Instead of accepting the negative comments as defeat, lowering his head, or begging for another chance like most of the contestants do, Sal actually did something surprisingly different. He responded in his thick Sicilian accent:
“Well I can sing country if you’d like.”
As you can imagine, the American Idol judges laughed hysterically.
What Sal was able to do in his moment of stress and defeat, is he used humor to detached himself from his situation. By doing this he was able to look at himself from a distance and use humor to help him rise above the situation.
Humor is one of many human traits. If there was one life lesson I wished that I could have learned to do early on in my younger age, it would be to laugh at myself freely and more often. If you are like me, I took myself a bit too seriously growing up, border line uptight sometimes. Over the years though I have learned to laugh more in moments of distress. I help remind myself of this life lesson by having my cell phone lock screen to read Don’t take life so serious (Yes, seriously!).
For example, this week I had a case of mushy brain. I needed to mail a package off and showed up to the post office Tuesday with the package, but not my wallet. Wednesday I went back to the post office, only to realize I forgot my package but had my wallet. As much as I wanted to scream cuss words and punch my steering wheel, I took a moment to look at the situation from a very high level, and just literally started laughing out loud in my car.
I laughed at myself because it was a way to self-detach myself from my inability to remember things this week. Think about it, the ability to laugh at ourselves really takes the edge off every serious situation whether it be work, health, relationships, etc. It is a way to show ourselves we don’t sweat the small stuff.
Alex Pattakos says it best in his book Prisoners Of Our thoughts when he writes:
“When we detach ourselves from ourselves and our situation, we don’t diminish or deny the circumstances, we go beyond them. We see, feel, and appreciate ourselves as separate from the distress; we accept and rise above”.
In the work world, emergency medical care workers are very experienced at this self-detachment. Every day they are faced with pressure filled stressful events, and yet they have to detach themselves from those situations in order to work effectively. Have you ever met anyone in this industry? On a good day, they can have you laughing until you have a stitch in yours side.
I remember a friend from high school who had the funniest sense of humor, and he became a fire fighter. To this day he continues to make me laugh with his hysterical/satirical Facebook posts. Humor in his situation helps detach himself enough to maintain an emotional distance from the patients and people he rescues.
So the next time your in a bind, pickle, or dramatic situation (because ‘The Situation’ off Jersey Shore got his name for a reason), take a step back take a deep breath, and let humor take over. Whether that be in form of a laugh or in Sal’s case a funny comment, this effective strategy will help you cope with these predicaments from which escape is impossible.
You might be wondering if Sal got a ‘golden ticket’ to Hollywood. He did indeed, and commented on the way out:
“Dreams do come true Ms. Lopez.”
You can watch his hilarious American Idol tryout HERE.
Whether it be your health, work, or relationships, how can you use humor as a way of putting distance between yourself and a challenge instead of getting obsessed with the situation?