Weekly Thought – November 2, 2021
Fred loved going to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for his annual physical. He developed a cadre of friends whose conversations in their late night sessions stimulated his thinking. When he required surgery to remove a tumor along his jaw bone in the early 1950s he opted for Minnesota knowing he would receive excellent medical attention and time with his cohorts. One of his favorite visits was with Dr. Howard Rome, whose psychiatric prowess made him internationally known. They spent hours batting around philosophical questions. One was always emotional health.
Emotional balance is necessary for a healthy life. Pressure is a fact of life. Without internal tension the stem of a flower droops. Without positive tension humans tend to be unproductive. I like to think of vertical and horizontal stress: the first pulls us together and strengthens; the other pulls us apart and destroys.
I have always been intrigued with car racing and race car drivers. One of the reasons is their ability to avoid panic. This, to me, is one of the signs of emotional balance. One year a client invited me to watch the Indy 500 from the pit area. Their professionalism and disciplined demeanor is impressive. You never expect a driver in trouble to close his eyes, throw his hands up, and scream in panic. No, their minds and bodies are trained to do everything possible to avoid the wall, getting the car off the track and into the infield. Panic is not an option.
I participated in a TV show with Craig Morton. During a break I asked him what it took to be a professional quarterback. “You have to have the ability to stay cool in the pocket.” The training and natural ability to stay emotionally balanced is required.
A sense of humor is key to balance. It is the oil that lubricates, reducing life’s friction. I think of laughter as the “oil of gladness.” I don’t believe I have ever seen a list of qualities of maturity that didn’t include sense of humor. It should be a permeating trait, not separated from the other aspects of the personality. It flavors the whole. Norman Cousins, in his famous work Anatomy of an Illness, demonstrated the power of humor. We hear often “laughter is the best medicine.” Cousins proved that through his own hospital experiences. Of course, scripture spoke of that in ancient times: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” It is true.
My friend Jim Smith underwent serious cancer surgery. In the hospital he wanted to volley back and forth with funny stories, even though it hurt to laugh. As we sat there, he pulled his pillow tight against the incision and went right on laughing.
Emotional balance is critical for the all-important mind/body connection. I am convinced we can transmit messages of health from one to another if we maintain that balance.
This week carefully consider: 1) When was the last time I really laughed? 2) How prone am I to panic? 3) What do I need to do to be better at staying cool in the pocket?
Words of Wisdom: “A sense of humor is the oil that lubricates, reducing life’s friction.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Banish emotional stress from your mind and put away pain from your body, for youth and the prime of life are fleeting.” (Ecclesiastes 11:10 NET Bible)