This is an excerpt from Conscious Men, written by John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh.
A Conscious Man knows how to bring humor into a situation from his inner disposition more than any particular action or words. He has just enough distance from his personality and the dramas of life that he can laugh at himself. He takes things less personally, and instead of getting upset, he has a sense of lightness. But you cannot fake that by reading a set of instructions. It comes from genuinely seeing beyond the drama and having a sense of play.
You can make people laugh when you have just the right balance of involvement and detachment. You are involved enough that you can empathize, listen, and feel. But you have enough distance to be able to see the humorous side as well. With too much involvement, you overemphasize and become emotionally dramatic. And with too much detachment, you become remote and distant. When these two exist together, it creates laughter in the people around you.
Of course, there are many kinds of humor. Sometimes humor is a way of masking pain, and then it become cynical or even cruel. That does not really open hearts. It simply lightens a burden for a few minutes. The kind of humor that is a gift to other people, and makes a Conscious Man attractive, often begins with his ability to laugh at himself. All of the men we talked to for this book had their own version of this, and our favorite was this story from our mutual friend, Ivan Misner:
When my first book came out, I had the opportunity to do my first live TV interview, in Connecticut. My publicist told me it had to be visual. I had no idea how to make business networking appear visual, so I had to put on my thinking cap. I am an amateur magician, a member of the Academy of Magical Arts in LA. The keyword here is “amateur.” So I asked my publicist, “What if I do a little magic trick on the TV? The host could hold up the book, and when she opens it, I could grab it away from her and say, “Careful, that’s hot!” Then flames would come out, and…” She agreed to my plan.
I went to the studio, and I was waiting in the green room with my magic trick ready. There were many other guests there. I was really, really nervous. Then I saw a man walking down the corridor dressed as an American Indian, another dressed as a sailor, then a police officer. We heard over the monitors the host announcing: “Tonight we have the Village People… and also Dr. Ivan Misner talking about business networking…”
Really? I thought to myself. I go on after the Village People? So I added a little more of the flammable powder for my trick. This was going to have to be really good. Then the Village People went live on the show. The audience went crazy. I was thinking now that I would be a complete embarrassment. So I added a little more of that flammable powder. And what was the last song that the Village People did? YMCA. Talk about visual… the entire audience was on their feet. Now I knew that this would be the most embarrassing day of my life. I added a little bit more of the powder. Then the director came into the green room. “Who’s Dr. Misner? We need you real quick.” They told me I had three minutes before going live. A man was putting a microphone behind my jacket. I was trying to explain to the host about the trick, so she would not be shocked. “When we get to the end of the interview, would you mind holding my book, and when you open it, I will say, “Careful that’s hot…” But then the director interrupted, and said that he didn’t want the book in the shot, that there would be an image of the book on the screen, and he walked off. The host could see that I was upset, and said, “Look, I’m the host; what do you want to do?”
I told her: “Hold up the book and at the very end, I’m going to say…” But now the microphone was on, and director could hear us conspiring, so again he walked straight up and said, “I don’t want you holding up the book. Now you’re on in 4 3 2 1….”
The host whispered to me, “I will do it anyway. I’ll hold up the book and you do whatever you want to do.”
So we did the whole segment, and it went well. When we got to the end, she held up my book. “I have a copy of Dr. Misner’s book here,” she said.
“Careful!” I said, on cue.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because it’s hot!” I said. I had put about ten times more of the flammable powder in the book than was advisable. There was a huge flash. She screamed and jumped into the lap of her co-host. I stomped on the flaming book with my foot. I didn’t realize that a flash like that blinds all the cameramen. So they were all standing away from their cameras, rubbing their eyes.
The host was still sitting in her co-host’s lap: “Thank goodness I didn’t swear on live TV,” she said.
“New pants for her please,” said her co-host.
My publicist looked at me, and said, “That was definitely visual. But I think we should leave now.”
So in most states in America I am considered a business networker. In Connecticut I am considered an arsonist.
We have heard Ivan tell this story several times. Audiences love him for it because he has made himself the fall guy for his own humor. But what is always most enjoyable is to watch the expressions on his wife Beth’s face. He wins her heart every time he tells the story. She adores him for it.
In relationship with a woman, this style
of self-effacing humor can break the tension of dominating or being dominated. It lightens the mood. Many men feel caught between either doing everything she wants and trying to please her, or digging his heels in, which creates tension. Humor breaks that tension. A man who gives too much, or tries to please a woman in every way, loses her respect. He becomes a puppy dog. Instead, he can respond to her demands with self-depreciating humor, and it gives her a greater gift than obedience; it gives her the gift of lightness.
A woman appreciates when you are sensitive to her needs and feelings, but when you become overly sensitive to your own, it reduces the polarity of attraction. The middle ground between emotional indulgence and cutting off is to bring her a sense of lightness and humor. It reminds her that life is a game. To enjoy playing, you need a mixture of connection and lightness: of holding on and letting go together. These are the two forces of love. Relationship works well when a woman is holding on a little more. She is more involved in the drama and the feelings. The man brings the lightness: with his palms open. Oxytocin is the attachment hormone. Testosterone is the letting go part. This is the dance. First she holds on, and he lets go. He gives her the gift of more lightness so she can find herself again. She lets go, and he moves in a little closer. This dance of more connection and holding on, balanced with more detachment and letting go, is made delightful through humor.
Humor is how he breaks the cycle of stress. Change is always somewhat stressful. Under moderate degrees of stress, a woman becomes more emotional, while a man becomes more detached. Adrenalin in a man causes testosterone levels to go up, which lessens his ability to feel emotion. For a woman, she has eight times more blood flow to the hippocampus, the emotional parts of the brain, which means she becomes more emotional under stress.
Under extreme stress, the opposite happens. A man will become emotional when the stress is too great to handle through action or when he gets burned out. A woman closes down under extreme stress and becomes cold and detached.
When you bring humor to her, helping her see the playful nature of things, it dissipates her stress. But you need to be sensitive to when it is time to empathize and when it is time to zoom out. At times of mild stress, when you are feeling more detached and she is feeling more emotional, your humor can help her to reflect on her reactions and release stress through laughter. When the stress has become too great, when you have become emotionally reactive, and she has become cold and cutoff, humor will feel inappropriate to her and will get rejected. That is when you need to be empathetic: caring, connecting with her deeply for her to be able to feel and open her heart again.
Visit consciousmen.com to learn more.