Part Five: Improving Your Relationship: Dale Carnegie on Marriage: Fun
People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it. (p.65)
We’ve been looking of late at some of the principles Dale Carnegie discussed in his monumental business best seller How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you’ve never read it, you are depriving yourself of some serious blessing. You need to pick it up and start improving your life. Its subtitle could be: How to behave in life so the people around you actually like you. The principles are universal. They apply not only at work, but at home, too. Most of us could use a kick in the relational butt anyway.
You see his quote above about fun? It’s pretty powerful. If you apply it, your life just might end up with a different result. But you say, my life is miserable. My spouse is never happy. Our home life is the pits. And so you walk around woe is me-ing everyone, feeling sorry for yourself and wearing a frown, the badge of discourage. What a gift you are to humanity. Sad-sack and gloom. And then you wonder why your life sucks.
Tell me: If you are so disheartened, how is anyone else in your family supposed to smile? Or have a gleam in their eye? But you say, I have a right to be in a bad mood. Our family completely sucks. Hey, Okay. You go right ahead and feel sorry for yourself. Tell yourself the only way you can have fun is to take this marriage and shove it. Tell yourself you are being proactive by giving up. Tell yourself that you can only have fun and joy in your life if everyone else around is in a good mood and if they aren’t then you need to just completely withdraw or get mad and shut down or turn into a shrew.
What’s the deal with that? You can choose to be in a bad mood but you can’t choose to be in a good mood? You let negativity rule your life? You let a downhearted spirit control your destiny? You poor little victim. No wonder no one wants to hang around you.
When’s the last time you smiled? When’s the last time you teased? When’s the last time you bopped around and danced a jig? Or made a sarcastic comment that wasn’t mean and intended to hurt? When’s the last time you threw spaghetti at the wall?
Ask my kids about a memorable story from their childhood and inevitably the spaghetti-at-the-wall story will arise. Mom was at work and dad’s at home, and I’m fixing spaghetti for supper, a cheap and easy meal for four rambunctious kids, and then while it’s boiling away I remember an article I read, couldn’t ever say where, that to test if spaghetti is done you throw it against the wall and if it sticks, it’s done. Really. I read that in an article. I think the author was dead serious. Either that, or he was a complete prankster and was pulling one over his readers and having fun at work himself. I don’t know, but God blessim. Dang. So I said to the kids, hey, come in here. Let’s test to see if this spaghetti’s done? Dang. It was. Stuck all over. On each other, too. What a mess. What a delight. What a memory. Laughter. We still laugh about it once in a while.
Do you remember the time you made spaghetti all glum and serious and everyone sat around all sad-like and no one said anything and you sat there feeling all sorry for yourself? Do you remember that night? What kind of memory is that?
Isn’t it time you take charge of your life? Isn’t it time you start adding a little joy? But you say, well, my spouse never smiles and everything is serious all the time. Let me ask you: if you were a fly on the wall looking down on you would you see a happy person or a sad person?
Let me ask you another question: if you were someone else looking at you would you immediately smile and say to yourself, what a really cool, nice person that is? Or would you want to go hide yourself from you? Ha! That’s funny, isn’t it? It’s pretty funny that you would think that you can’t have fun unless everyone else around you is all happy and everything. You mope around and everyone else mopes around trying to avoid you like the plague.
If you want a successful marriage, or family life for that matter, you need to have fun doing it. For how many of us is our marriage drudgery? It’s a common complaint I hear. We’re not compatible. Our life is so boring. We don’t have any fun. We don’t do anything together. We live in separate rooms in the house. We sleep in separate beds. We have our own separate interests. All we do is work, come home and do homework with the kids, put the kids to bed and go to bed. Same thing. Day in and day out.
Every life has routine. We’re creatures of habit. Habit isn’t bad. It keeps you from going crazy. If you had to relearn everything every day it you’d go bonkers. What does fun do? It helps keep normal habitual behavior from taking on the aura of doom and gloom. It infuses a little joy.
We could use a little joy here, folks. That would start with you.
That’s right. You.