An interesting anecdote from the works of Sufi Bayazid:
Sufi Bayazid said that as a young man he was a revolutionary, and prayed to God to give him the energy to change the world. As he approached middle age, he realized that half his life was gone without changing a single soul. He then decided to change his prayer and started saying, “O God, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me and I shall be happy.” The arrogance displayed in youth had mellowed to acceptance of others. As he turned old, his thinking underwent a further change and so did his prayer which became, “Give me the grace to change myself.”
Bayazid realized that had he prayed for this right from the beginning, he would not have wasted his life. I had to face this sort of dilemma at an All India Laughter Convention held in India. Only a day before the convention, I was invited as the chief guest by one of the Laughter Clubs. Approximately 120 members welcomed me with warmth and affection.
The club seemed extremely well organized with many people regularly attending the laughter sessions. The leader began the session with some laughter and stretching exercises, lasting for about 30 minutes. After the exercises, he brought us up to date with a report about various activities of the club which all sounded good to me.
Although I appreciated the efforts of the leader and not intending to be critical, I told him that the laughter exercises were a little mechanical and the stretching exercises were too fast for the senior age group. I was only trying to reinforce my teachings; however, it was not well taken by the leader.
After listening to my remarks, a look of extreme displeasure came over the leader’s face as he gave me a disparaging sideways glance and thanked me half-heartedly in his closing remarks. His tension and anger with my remarks, which he obviously had seen as a personal affront, were visibly apparent as he avoided speaking to me for the remainder of the conference. Feeling dismayed and bewildered with his behavior, I began wondering if I had done the proper thing by offering what I felt was constructive criticism.
That same evening we met at a party, but he was still very curt and angry with me. When he began making critical remarks about my work, I was infuriated and ready to retaliate. Fortunately, better sense prevailed, as I took a deep breath and held back my anger.
Saddened and hurt by the turn of events, I went back to my hotel and looked through my final preparation for the conference. Much to my surprise and disgust, I found that this particular leader was to be awarded with a gold medal for his contribution to the laughter movement at the end of the conference. For a moment I was consumed with revenge and wanted to cancel his award, but an inner voice would not allow me to commit such an act of unkindness. Suddenly, I realized there would be no difference between him and me if I reacted in this manner. I decided to continue my positive approach, at least outwardly, until the time it genuinely came from within.
The next day at the conference, despite the revelry, laughter and fun, the leader did not look happy. I decided to break the ice. I went up to him and apologized for my remarks. I said I had no intention of hurting him and appreciated all that he had done for the laughter movement, that my words were merely constructive criticism. Immediately, his expression softened and he began smiling. Congratulating him as I presented his award, I noticed tears in his eyes. Not only did I know he regretted his rude behavior, but I also knew my comments had been forgiven and my apology accepted.
Compassion and understanding are two great tools that can transform the mind. Remaining positive will in time foster positive change; however, that change will never happen until you change your own behavior.
ABOUT DR. MADAN KATARIA
Dr. Madan Kataria, was coined by the London Times as the ‘Guru of Giggling.’ His invention has grown into a worldwide movement of more than 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 60 countries, and has been covered by prestigious publications like TIME magazine, National Geographic, and the Wall Street Journal and been featured on CNN, BBC, US networks and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Kataria is a keynote and motivational speaker for companies, corporations and organizations all over the world. He has done seminars and workshops with IBM, Hewlett Packard, YPO (Young President Association), SAS and Emirates Airlines, Volvo Automobiles, Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Manpower and Social Welfare, Singapore Government, Western Australian Parliament, Dubai (UAE), and HRD Congress Malaysia.
To learn more about Dr. Madan Kataria, please visit www.LaughterYoga.org