The Wise Man And The Joke

I saw the following story online last week and thought it is worth sharing. Read on to see what this wise man has to say. I’ve also added my two-cents at the end.

A wise man sat in the audience and cracked a joke. Everyone laughed like crazy.

After a moment, he cracked the same joke again. This time, less people laughed.

He cracked the same joke over and over again. When there was no more laughter in the crowd, he said, “You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over again but why do you keep crying over the same things over and over again?”

The question posed by the wise man is a valid one—why do many of us keep crying over the same things over and over again when we are unable to laugh at the same jokes over and over again? The answer is simple. As ironic as it may sound, it makes us feel good to feel bad. Tony Robbins often says that you will keep doing something as long as it meets three or more of your needs.

The reason people stop laughing at the same jokes is because the novelty of jokes is in the element of surprise. The element of surprise meets our need for uncertainty. Once we lose that element, there is no longer any novelty in the joke, which is why after a while, we tend to find that it’s no longer funny.

Crying, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It is the element of predictability or certainty that drives many of us to cry over the same things. But that aside, the more important question is how can we meet those same needs in healthier ways? The best thing to do is to replace rather than refrain. Instead of refraining from crying over the same things, the healthier approach is to replace that mechanism with something else that will meet the same need.

Sounds complex? Once you understand it, you wield the power to control your emotions, rather than let them control you.

To needs,

Chiao Kee

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