Make Someone Else Happy


by Allen Klein


"One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people. "

-- Dick Gregory

Research has shown that people who volunteer often live longer. The studies indicate that focusing our attention on someone else, takes our mind off of our own problems. We stay healthier and thereby live longer.

Similarly, focusing on the tensions of someone else, and finding the humor in those tensions, can produce laughter beneficial to both parties. That's the humor technique that the winner of the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, Dareen LaCroix, uses not only to help others find humor in their trials and tribulations but also in his own.

LaCroix consciously and consistently looks for people who are stressed out. When he finds them, and there is an abundant to choice from, he asks himself, "How can I relieve their tension?" Since humor comes from tension, focusing on what someone else is frustrated about can often produce laughter.

According to LaCroix, all you have to do is ask a cashier or salesclerk, for example, "What is the worst thing that has happened to you today?" Suddenly two things occur. One, they get to vent their upset thus getting some immediately relief. And two, they will often laugh when they hear themselves complaining.

LaCroix used this same technique when his mentor, the person who taught him about stand-up comedy, was in the hospital dealing with cancer. Because of the illness, his teacher could only eat ice chips. He hated it but that was all he could swallow.

LaCroix asked himself, "how can I relieve his tension, or, where does his frustration lie?"

What he came up with happened right after he filled in for a speech his mentor could not do. He sent his teacher part of the payment for the gig along with a note. It read: "Dear Dave. I hope this helps you out but do me a favor. Don't spend it all on ice chips."

I have personally seen this "Relieve-My-Tension" technique work well when my plane was delayed for several hours. I took out one of the red sponge rubber clown noses that I usually carry and handed it to the flight attendant who was greeting the disgruntled passengers entering the plane.

I then stood by and watched the passenger's reactions. A few didn't want anything to do with her. The glanced briefly at the red nose and quickly turned away. Obviously, they were too attached to their frustration to let it go. Most, however, began to chuckle. Their laughter relieved their stress, the flight attendants and mine as well.

So the next time you see someone stressed out keep asking yourself: "How can I relieve the tension?"

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2012 Allen Klein. All Rights Reserved.