Lewis Howes: Joker Mask – Part II

“Like many people, I want to avoid being the dark cloud in other people’s lives, so I pretend things are sunny, even when they are obviously not. So I keep things light, or at surface level. I want to talk about other people. I want to focus on other people’s challenges because focusing on my own feels more vulnerable.”

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

But when you’re able to spew your problems out and talk to people about them, like Dale Carnegie once said, you’re able to lift all of that off your chest.

If I can look back at the most “depressed” moments of my life, one coming for only 5-minutes back in 2014, it all had to do with my personal feelings and vendetta.  In 2014, I was denied jobs, face-to-face, because of being African American.  I was in the back of a taxi circling around an area of Bangkok (invasive technique taxi drivers do in Bangkok to rake up the meter), and at the given moment I felt like I was just a spec in the world.  I snapped out of it within minutes.

Also, being dismissed in a relationship in 2009 left me in absolute shambles.  It was the darkest cloud hanging over me, simply because it was my first love.  It took two-months to shake it off, but I did and later went to Australia for the first time in my life that summer.

In 2003, I was surely depressed in the latter portion of the year, but this revolved around my mother not having a job, no food in the house, and two girls not wanting anything to do with me.  This developed anger, which I talked about in an earlier podcast/blog, but I ended up getting over it by joining Track & Field – the best sport to join because you can only place blame on yourself.

I really need to tell this story that I read in Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Stop Worrying And Start Living.’

Mrs. Moon’s Story

In December, a number of years ago, I was engulfed in a feeling of sorrow and self-pity.  After several years of happy married life, I had lost my husband.  As the Christmas holidays approached, my sadness deepened. I had never spent a Christmas alone in all my life; and I dreaded to see this Christmas come.  Friends had invited me to spend Christmas with them.  But I did not feel up to any gaiety.  I knew I would be a wet blanket at any party.  So, I refused their kind invitations.  As Christmas eve approached, I was more and more overwhelmed with self-pity.  True, I should have been thankful for many things, as all of us have many things for which to be thankful.  The day before christmas, I left my office at 3pm in the afternoon and started walking aimlessly on a street, hoping that I might banish my self-pity and melancholy the avenue was jammed with happy crowds — scenes that brought back memories of happy years that were gone.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of going home to a lonely and empty apartment.  I was bewildered.  I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t keep the tears back.  After walking aimlessly for an hour or so, I found myself in front of a bus terminal.  I remember that my husband and I had often boarded an unknown bus for adventure, so I boarded the first bus I found at the station.  After cross the Hudson River and riding for some time, I heard the bus conductor say, ‘Last stop, lady.’  I got off.  I didn’t even know the name of the town.  It was a quiet and peaceful little place.  While waiting for the next bus home, I started walking up a residential street.  As I passed a church, I heard the beautiful strains of “Silent Night.” I went in.  The church was empty except for the organist.  I sat down unnoticed in one of the pews.  The lights from the gaily decorated Christmas tree made the decorations seem like myriads of stars dancing in the moonbeams.  The long-drawn cadences of the music — and the fact that I had forget to eat since morning — made me drowsy.  I went to sleep.

When I awoke, there were two small children who had apparently come in to see the Christmas tree.  One said, “I wonder if Santa Claus brought her.”

The children were terrified when I woke up, but I told them I wouldn’t hurt them.  They were poorly dressed.  I asked them where their mother and daddy were.  “We ain’t got no mother and daddy,” they said. They were orphans.  They made me feel ashamed of my sorrow and self-pity.  I went on to buy them food and refreshments, and I banished my depression instantaneously.

See, in the book they would call this “masking a problem,” but I would disagree completely.  This is basically realizing that you have it well.  There has to be a deeper story to why people, of all statuses, commit suicide.  Robin Williams had all the money, a wife, oscars, and everything – but he ultimately killed himself.  So I will ask again: “what is depression?”

“Beneath the jokes is often a sadness or some problem. Behind the mask—no matter how funny or entertaining—is a real person. Psychologist Edward Dreyfus puts it even more directly: “Perhaps we should listen more attentively to those who hide behind the mask of humor. Perhaps we should be asking them to whom do they turn to make them laugh? Perhaps we should spend a little more effort in seeing the person behind the mask.” If we had listened to what Robin Williams was saying behind his mask, I wonder what we would have heard.”

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

Maybe people, who are comedians, just love making people laugh for the sake of bringing joy to the world?

“So many comedians/funny people will tell you they grew up feeling hopelessly inadequate, hideously ugly, impossibly fat, meekly small, and direly insignificant. These deep-rooted insecurities are what provided them with a die-hard desire and unrelenting ambition to be seen, respected, and accepted by their peers. Society will accept you for your flaws, so long as you’re funny. Taking on the role as the class clown at school is the ultimate way for the incessantly bullied kid to gain popularity. – Author Zara

Humor becomes the ultimate mask—one that gets you what you’ve always wanted (acceptance) for being the opposite of who you’ve always been (different). Not surprisingly, this detachment from the emotions and the identity hidden behind the mask can have profound effects on relationships, on professional life, and on overall happiness.” – Lewis Howes

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

I read this and I just couldn’t relate.  This part of the book is focusing on how bad “comedy” may be.  So someone, like myself, who loves to make someone laugh, is hiding something? Is that it? Absolutely not.  I know that the more we laugh and have those feelings of joy, the more we attract to us more of those feelings that will keep pushing us to a spiritual and joy “high.”

What Robin Williams had was something much more deep-rooted in his childhood.  Kevin Hart, who’s a comedian, had very little when he was growing up.  He used all of the transgressions in the past as comedy today.  He’s not hiding a thing….or so I believe.

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