Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mr. Bill as Spiritual Guru

A series of commercials airing on TV here in the States has brought one of my favorite characters from the old Saturday Night Live series back into the spotlight. Mr. Bill, a hapless pile of clay with a talent for getting himself tossed about, is once again flying out of windows and onto windshields, his trademark, "Oh, noooooooo!" ringing across the airwaves.

The thing about Mr. Bill that kept us all laughing (besides the sheer slapstick genius of throwing a humanoid blog of playdough off a 30 story building, into a blender, under a bus...) is that, no matter how dire his situation, he always had a positive spin on it. No one is more cheerful, hopeful, and pragmatic than Mr. Bill! In the recent TV ads, Mr. Bill flies out a window and is splatted against a bus windshield. Does he cry? scream? rant? Nope! His "Oh, nooooooooooo!" is followed quickly by, "Hey, the bus is right on time!"

And that, my friends, is why I'm making Mr. Bill one of my personal spiritual gurus. You see, Mr. Bill has figured out that one of the keys to happiness is assessing your situation and making the most of it...and sometimes that means just being happy that the bus is on time.

S*it happens to all of us, and if personal crappy events aren't enough, there's plenty of global crap to go around. Happiness doesn't mean you aren't aware of the puddle of yuck we're all wading through. Mr. Bill is well aware he's flying out a window and more than aware he's just hit the windshield of a moving bus. But he keeps finding ways to be happy.

Bill knows that the key is not just knowing what's happening, but knowing what you can do about it and what you can't. More importantly, he knows that he has choices - not necessarily about what's happening around or to him, but always about how he chooses to react. So you're face down on the windshield? That sucks. What can you do about it? Not much...except decide how you will react. Cry, moan, declare it unfair... or check the time and be glad the bus is on schedule.

Yes, I know life is not an SNL skit (though, gads, sometimes the skits are truer than life)...and I know that the windshields we hit as we fly through this life are bigger, badder, and bloodier than Mr. Bill's moving bus...and I still stand by the principle. Whatever is happening to me, my course of action is clear:
1. Assess the situation - face what's happening full-on, no denial allowed;
2. Assess my options - what can I do about what's happening? No shirking and no fantasy...just the facts.
3. ACT! If there is something I can do to make my situation better, get the lead out (or the fear, the stubborness, or anything else that's holding me back) and do it.
4. Choose my reaction - Decide if I want to wallow in self-pity, writhe in agony, burn with resentment, poison myself with anger...or choose to focus on what is actually good for me, not because I don't know bad s*it has happened, but because I don't want to wallow, writhe, burn, or die a slow death from toxic rage.

It's that simple. Like Mr. Bill, I choose to be happy. There's more to happiness, of course...but Mr. Bill is an excellent guide to one of the key components of a happy life. Am I going to waste a lesson like that? Oh, noooooooooooo!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful reminder that, when life turns us into a splat on the windshield, we can still appreciate the aesthetic qualities in our splatted-ness. :-)

    I especially like your 4-step plan for being flexible. The sure way to get life to break you into bits is to be dry and rigid. Then, when life hits, you crumble. Mr. Bill's got the right of it. We're all still clay in the middle of the molding process... staying flexible in the wake of the things that would harden you is the secret to staying young and healthy and happy these days. I think you've nailed it on the head here.


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