“We put the silly into cousillyng!”
“For those who like that kind of thing, it is just about the kind of thing they would like,” – is one of my favorite Abe Lincoln quotes.
There is a quite a deal of controversy whether he really said it and if so, in reference to what. One version I have seen (A History of the American People, Paul Johnson) is that this quote was in reference to the growing “2nd Great Awakening” and some of their means for spiritual growth. It has been theorized that the Great Awakening is the movement which fed into and fueled the Abolitionist movement in mid-19th century America. I’m sure you are well aware of Lincoln’s disagreement with their approach to the issues of the day.
Here is another one I love: To a woman who sat on his hat (is that where Dr. Seuss got his idea?), “Madam, I could have told you that my hat wouldn’t fit you before you tried it on (with Uncle Abe that was never a good idea).”
Let me throw in just two more: “If this is coffee, please bring me tea. If this is tea, please bring me coffee.” This one is quite self-explanatory.
This is the most important one [for my purposes anyway] “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.”
I bet you know where I’m getting at. What is the common theme among all these instances of good ole Abe expressing his thoughts in his signature dry, wry and subtly (or not so) caustic manner? Hint: All the above remarks were mentioned in moments of minor frustration.
Uncle Abe was like you and me. He got frustrated on a daily basis. How he dealt with these moment to moment hiccups in his life were quite creative and effective! He used one of the oldest tricks in the book in ways that were quite unique. Abe used them in his domestic life, political, social and professional spheres as well.
In other words, releasing the pain inherent in the frustration, annoyance or irksome daily and hourly events which pile up needlessly inside our body systems through your actions and ideas. Abe Lincoln’s way of releasing the small but powerful annoyances and grievances throughout the day was through the use of humor (alongside other methods to be discussed at a later date).
“Okay, great, so what you’re saying is, now every time I get a flat tire I should try to text s snarky line to someone and that way I’ll feel better like Abe Lincoln?” No, there are other ways distance the immediate circumstances from your feeling reality. For example, you may consider the method discussed in a past post, which I termed “The Jim Carrey method https://www.linkedin.com/in/melechmann/detail/recent-activity/shares/.”
In a nutshell, this was simply exaggerating or mellow dramatizing the effects of a circumstance until it appears funny. Yes, taking a picture of how miserable you look with grimy hands and sweaty paws will make for a great picture!
However, if you really understood how to externalize or distance yourself from the urgency latent in a classic bummer situation, you may find it very helpful to actually soil your hands a little extra or put on an exaggerated glum looking persona for the photo you will be taking. Humor has a power like none other to remove the potential pain or seriousness of the moment, which in most cases, does not do too much good to your life and health.
In summary, every trying situation, no matter how common or lackluster, can be fed some irony, even if it must be a cruel irony. Lean into the pain, as Abe Lincoln did with his marriage, career and crushed hat and realize the silly lining in every challenging circumstance!
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