Josh Waitzkin has this thing he does, and taught his son to do. Whenever he does something stupid, fucks up or something shitty happens, he thinks ‘This is Great!’ Which not only removes the weight a situation that most of the time is inconsequential, but also helps you move on.
Today I went to put the coffee back up in the top shelf of the kitchen pantry, and just as I was about to place it down up high, I fumbled, spilled it, tried to recover but failed, and the coffee went everywhere.
There’s been times in the past, if I was having a bad day, I would’ve got pissed off, but this is the song I sang out loud straight after (with my wife as my audience who was pleased to have this demented impromptu comedy show going on in the kitchen):
I’m going to experiment with that. Every time I fuck up and do something dumb, that’s the song I’m going to sing out loud, or at least in my head,
Seneca believed that in situations of disturbance, where your choices are to either weep and complain or laugh without control¹, the latter is the better.
In The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz describes a situation where while in traffic, a guy rammed into the back of his car, Schwartz got out of his car and just as he was about to chew this guy right out, he approached Schwartz with a big sincere smile together with a sincere ‘Sorry’. It totally negated whatever seriousness the situation bore, and it reminded Schwartz that it really didn’t matter. All because of how this guy spun it.
It’s total disarmament of a situation. We often convince ourselves that stuff is much more serious than it really is. But it’s our mind, and our control of it (and circus music) that can remind us, ‘Is this really important?’ ²
¹ Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, c. 4BC-65AD
² Also something that’s a David Schwartz practice from The Magic of Thinking Big