A man needs a little madness, or else
he never dares cut the rope and be free. -- Nikos Kazantzakis
Assignment: Each day for seven days, do something that you have never done before and something you feel that you simply cannot do.
How many times have you had a good idea only to keep it to yourself for fear of looking like a crackpot?. How many times have you wanted to run up and hug someone and tell them how much you love them, but you didn't because, well, they might not feel the same?. Or they might think you're one of those loony bins "they" warned them about.
Well, this fear of appealing foolish is crippling. Worrying what other people think squelches our joy, our fun, and all those good ideas our planet needs.
Overcoming the Fear of Looking Foolish
The prescription for overcoming this "debilitating disease" is to force yourself to do absurd things. Ingrid Torrance, an actress who appeared in the film, Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd, says, "I had a huge lack of confidence. I faced my fear of acting by doing things that made me uncomfortable."
W. Metcalf, a humor consultant to many Fortune 500 companies, says he cured himself of "terminal seriousness" by forcing himself to do things like walk through an airport minus a sock and shoe. Or stand in an elevator and talk nonstop.
Notice your reaction. Do you find yourself thinking?, "I could never in a million years do that!" Be assured that this resistance is the same thing that's keeping you stuck.
Your Assignment... Should You Decide to Accept It
Your assignment is to do one absurd thing every day for seven days. One thing that you are sure "you could never do." Yes, it has to be in public. And, yes, it has to be something out of the ordinary, something that might make people laugh.
But, but . . . what if people DO laugh?
Take a bow. As Dr. Thomas Sydenham, a seventeenth-century physician, said, "The arrival of a good clown exercises more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than 20 asses laden with drugs."
People love to laugh. They need to laugh. According to Patch Adams, "People crave laughter like an essential amino acid." And since everybody else on this planet is just as eager to break out of their ruts as you are, people will love your crazy stunts.
If anything, they'll be jealous, wish it were them.
But I guarantee you they won't forsake you. You might even inspire them. People are desperately longing for someone to give them permission to be themselves. You can be the one who gives them that permission.
Suggestions For Things To Do
If your mind is so stuck that you can't even think of any ideas, try a couple of these ideas:
Hang out on elevators. If there's one place where acceptable behavior is rigidly prescribed, it's on an elevator. People would rather slit their veins in a warm bath than talk to each other. In fact, they stand there like deaf mutes looking intently at the ceiling or their shoes. It's the perfect place to begin your pilgrimage.
Ditch the dress code. Clown costumes are good. Given the narrowness of fashion standards today, it's not too difficult to come up with something that will make people chuckle, point, and realize that maybe there are other possibilities.
Wear your new get-up to the library, to the dry cleaners, yes, even to work. You'll be surprised at how much fun you'll have.
As Patch says, "Wearing underwear on the outside of your clothes can turn a tedious trip to the store for a forgotten carton of milk into an amusement park romp."
Of course, Patch also owns a gorilla costume. And a ballet tutu. And for someone who is 6 feet 6 inches with hair down to his waist, that's not a look likely to show up on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Patch's ridiculous raiment, as he calls these outrageous outfits, reminds us that we often live in other people's ruts, that we do most things without thinking. Because we think we have to. Or because we're conditioned that way. It doesn't even cross our mind that we could try something else.
Try outlandish, even ridiculous things. Patch, for example, hosted a fund-raiser in Phoenix called "Full Moon over Camelback" where thousands of people paid $25 for the privilege of mooning the city in unison at the stroke of midnight. As charity events go, it was pure genius -- no overhead, no auctions, no selling things nobody really wants.
©2001, 2015 by Pam Grout. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Boldness, service, kindness, commitment, creativity, happiness, spirituality. These are the subjects of the chapters in this book and the BIG ways we discover our own passion, love with every ounce of us, and reclaim our wildest dreams. Featuring profiles of everyday people who are living fully and completely and filled with suggestions for life-changing activities, this book will get you thinking BIG, dreaming BIG, and asking the right BIG questions.
About the Author
Pam Grout is the author of 15 books and two iPhone apps, including the New York Times bestselling E-Squared. She has also written for Huffington Post, cnngo, Travel & Leisure, Outside, Family Circle, Modern Maturity, New Age Journal, Scientific American Explorations, Arizona Highways, Travel Holiday, Tennis, Powder, Snow Country, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, First for Women, Amtrak Express, and others. Visit her at pamgrout.com.