Give What You Want to Get. It may sound contradictory, but you need to give away what you want to acquire. You want a hug? Give someone a hug and they will most often hug you back. Want someone to smile at you? Smile at them first. Want more serenity and calmness in your life? Be that way yourself and you will attract other similar souls.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Allen Klein.
Allen Klein (aka “Mr. Jollytologist”®) shows audiences worldwide how to use humor and positive thinking to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is an award-winning professional speaker and author of 28 books including, The Healing Power of Humor, You Can’t Ruin My Day, Positive Thoughts for Troubling Times, Embracing Life After Loss, and The Lighten Up Book. He is also a TEDx presenter and blogger on happiness. www.allenklein.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Mywife contracted a rare liver disease when she was 31 and passed away at 34. There were lots of tears but there was also lots of laughter. After my wife, who had a wonderful sense of humor, died, I realized how important humor and laughter was to help us get through those difficult three years of the terminal illness. I went back to school to learn about therapeutic humor, started to share what I learned about therapeutic humor from her and the hospice patients I was working with audiences in my workshops and keynote presentations and wrote The Healing Power of Humor.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Several years ago, I was asked to be the speaker and facilitator at an all-weekend retreat. I would be teaching burn survivors and their caregivers how to lighten up. When I was first asked to do the retreat, I didn’t know how I could possibly teach this group about therapeutic humor when they had been through such a horrible ordeal.
The truth was that all my fears were unfounded. They loved what I did. They jumped at any chance to laugh. And once I got over the initial shock of seeing their deformities, all I could see was their radiant and beautiful spirits. They didn’t know it, but they taught me more than I taught them. They taught me about courage. They taught me about unconditional love as I watched their caretakers and loved ones attend to the burn survivor’s every need. They taught me that in spite of what they went through, they could laugh. In fact, they craved it.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Of course, as an author, it would be my first book, The Healing Power of Humor I never realized how much of an influence a book could be. Now in a 40+ printing and a 9th foreign translation, the book has changed thousands of lives around the world. I know because many people have told me that it did.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
Being in the moment…not rushing through things…being aware of my surroundings.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
When I am rushing, and not being mindful, I tend to either do things carelessly, which means having to do them over, like missing a spot on a dirty dish, or forgetting something, like rushing out of the house only to find that I’ve left my car keys in the house.
Also, when I mindful, I’m much more relaxed. I’m focusing on what I’m doing, or who I’m talking to instead of stressing about all the things I have to do that afternoon or what I’ll be making for dinner that night.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
1-Have Reminders Around. Something as simple as a chime app on your cell-phone that rings every hour to remind you to stop, breathe deeply and take a break.
2- Ration the News. A lot of news programs repeat the same thing over and over again. It only seeps into our subconscious and brings us down. Listen sparingly. Most likely you will hear any bad news soon enough.
3-Find Things that Bring You Comfort. When things get you down, there is nothing like having something familiar or comforting around. Like:
-Photos of your kids and/or those you love.
-Your pet; it’s hard to stay stressed cuddling with, or stroking, your pet.
-An affirmation or saying that helps you be more serene, like Deepak Chopra’s words: “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
4- Have Funny Stuff Around Too. Just because the world is serious doesn’t mean you have to be too. Counteract any anxiety with uplifting smile-producing, laugh-getting, play things. Humor gives perspective. Things may be bad, but they can’t be all that bad if you can laugh at them. In fact, when you can laugh at something, it gives you an upper-hand on the situation.
5- Give What You Want to Get. It may sound contradictory, but you need to give away what you want to acquire. You want a hug? Give someone a hug and they will most often hug you back. Want someone to smile at you? Smile at them first. Want more serenity and calmness in your life? Be that way yourself and you will attract other similar souls.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
1- Communicate with Compassion: Send out handwritten cards or make personal phone calls to show support of what the other person might be experiencing. Emails are quicker, and will do in a pinch, but a letter or card is more personal and more powerful. Don’t believe it? Then think about a past Birthday. Which made a bigger impression, an email greeting or a card that came in the mail? Bet you might have even displayed or saved the card.
2- Reach Out and Touch Someone. I once had an aunt who didn’t have much money, in fact she was on welfare. Nonetheless she was one of the happiest people I have ever known. I think her secret was what research has proven — that those who volunteer to help others are happier and healthier. Whenever someone in her apartment building would have a special occasion, she would bake them a cake or cookies. If a baby was on the way, she would knit a sweater or a baby blanket. So, be selfish — help someone else and you will be helping yourself at the same time.
3- Be Kind. What is one kind, perhaps unexpected, thing you can do for someone else every day? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to enrich someone else’s life. Holding a door open for them. Allowing someone to get in your lane on the highway. Saying, “Please” and “Thank You” more often is a small thing that can make a big difference.
4- Find the Good in the Bad. When we are in a difficult situation it is often hard to find any good in it, but it is usually there. Sometimes we don’t see it until down the road when we have some perspective. But if we look, we can find it. You can support someone who is going through a hard time by helping them discover the positive in the negative. Our current situation with the coronavirus is not so great. Yet there could even be some positive there. I, for example, have worked in the garden nearly every day now that I don’t go out of the house, and I chat on the phone with my daughter daily instead of weekly.
5- Do Something Normal. Anxious times make us anxious. Things happen to which we are unaccustomed. We grieve for things that are no longer the way they used to be. One of the things we can do for ourselves and for someone else is to do something normal in unnormal times — get an ice cream cone or cup of coffee, watch a rerun of your favorite TV show, reread a favorite book.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
Meditate or sit quietly for a period of time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you.” — W.H. Murry
I have found that when I make a commitment to do something, either with someone else or myself, it gets done.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d start a “tell-someone-you-love-them” movement. Every day everyone in the world has to tell three people they love them.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!