The Gift of Being Easily Amused

One of the joys of traveling is seeing so many children at the airport. Interacting with them is fun for me and helps the waiting time go by much faster.

Last week, I encountered a toddler with his mother at the changing station in the bathroom. He looked to be around 11 months of age. Having already been changed, he was amusing himself while his mother packed things away into one of those amazing bags that all Moms seem to have. (If you’re ever at an airport and need something – a band-aid, the latest copy of Parenting magazine, a blender to mix your margaritas –ask one of these women; she’ll pull it out of her bag.)

As I watched this little guy, he stood on the counter and suddenly saw his own reflection in the mirror. He couldn’t have been more delighted. He laughed happily at the baby he saw. He pounded on the mirror to get his attention. He used the mirror’s reflection to glance over at me and grin from ear to ear. He was in baby Heaven.

That’s the moment I decided to write this column. I thought to myself, “When do we begin to lose that; this ability to be so easily amused?”

Some never do, of course. I lost it for awhile (30 years, to be exact) but slowly began to regain it as I recovered from the depression that had plagued me since childhood. Close friends will tell you I am incredibly easy to amuse. It’s one of the reasons I’m happier and happier as the years go by.

It’s all about taking the same approach as small children – that life is supposed to be fun and that we are supposed to be happy. Children have no tolerance for things that aren’t fun or circumstances that make them unhappy. Instead of learning from them, we diligently go about the task of teaching them just how serious and NOT fun life really is. It’s such a shame. All these great little teachers among us and we have the roles confused.

There is a new generation of workers coming into the workforce who insist on having work that they enjoy. Older workers are aghast at the audacity of these young adults. “Work is not supposed to be fun!” they cry, “Why do you think they call it WORK?!?” It’s interesting that, when children are small we often use the tactic of turning some chore they need to do into a game. But when workers do the same thing, they’re treated as if they are naïve misfits.

Southwest Air is one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. One of the reasons is that they insist on making work fun. Don’t misunderstand. They are clearly serious about safety and all the things that require a serious mindset. However, if the mechanics who work on the plane are having a good time while doing it, that’s an airplane I want to board. When you’re enjoying yourself, you’re alert. When you’re alert, you do better work. Save us all from those sleepy mechanics who take a grim attitude of diligence toward their work!

I was on a Southwest flight a month ago and two people got sick at the same time. One was sitting in front of me, one two seats away in the same row (I’m innocent, I swear!) I loved the attitude of the flight attendants. Instead of being upset at the extra worry and work, I overheard one of them say to the other, “Well, the good news is that they are seated close together. That makes it much easier to take care of them both at the same time.” Talk about an attitude of, “The glass is half full!” Attitude is the reason I do everything I can to fly Southwest Airlines when I travel.

Try it yourself. Take an attitude of being easily amused. If you read the paper each day, read the comics first or look at the political cartoons. When you see small children at play, stop a moment and watch them. When co-workers are laughing, instead of being annoyed that they’re not working when they “should” be, take a moment to watch the fun they’re having and share in the amusement.

Life provides an infinite amount of material when you are easily amused. Next time you are annoyed or frustrated by something, ask yourself, “What’s amusing about this?” “What would Bill Cosby, Robin Williams or Ellen DeGeneres say about it?”

Becoming easily amused is a worthy goal. Go for it!

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