Is a Bronze Medal Better Than Silver? Lessons from the Olympics on Reframing Stress

In the CIA Book of Secret Humor, author Ed Mickolus shares insights into humor, CIA-style, including their motto: “It could have been worse.” Watching the Olympics this week, I’m reminded of this motto as a humorous way to deal with stress. Research suggests that often the silver medalists are less happy with their medal than the bronze medalists because the silver medalists are bigstock-A-thermometer-measuring-the-le-21680117thinking, “I lost gold” whereas the bronze medalists are thinking, “Whew…I made it onto the podium!”  One is thinking, “It could have been better;” the other is thinking, “It could have been worse.”

A great reminder of the importance of attitude and in talking to the voice (or committee) in your head to help you reframe your stress in a humorous way by exaggerating how things could have been so much worse. Exaggerating the possibilities is a form of what’s called “paradoxical intervention,” and it works extremely well in certain situations. A word of caution though: Some people hate having this foisted upon them by someone else, so best to either practice this alone to reframe your own challenges, or suggest it as a team event to see who can come up with the funniest “worst case scenario” the next time your entire team needs to laugh instead of cry.

Michael Kerr, February, 2014.   Michael Kerr is one of the most in-demand funny motivational speakers in Canada and international business speaker specializing on workplace culture and humor in the workplace.

 

 

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