The Comedy Mindset

Humor can be an effective tool in changing our reactions in certain situations, allowing us to enjoy and appreciate moments that might otherwise cause us to stew in our own anger and frustration.

If you’re familiar with Gary Klein’s work, you likely know that he has written a thing or two about mindsets – what they are, the advantages and disadvantages of mindsets, and how we can work to shift them. In his latest Psychology Today blog, Gary introduces a different kind of mindset that can be effective in a variety of stressful and frustrating situations and environments – the comedy mindset. 

Mindsets help us make sense of situations and in turn, can help guide our responses to those situations. Carol Dweck, a pioneer in the mindset research, paved the way by introducing two pivotal mindsets – fixed and growth. Dweck’s focus was on exploring the way people view their abilities. If you adopt a fixed mindset, you might think that your intelligence is something you were born with and that when you fail at something, it’s because you just aren’t good at that thing, whatever it may be. On the other hand, if you adopt a growth mindset, you might view your intelligence as something you can improve over time with hard work and determination. Failing at a given task doesn’t represent the limitations of your own intelligence and abilities, it represents an opportunity for growth. You view your failures as a challenge to do better, not a line in the sand demonstrating where your intelligence and abilities end.     

The comedy mindset is the newest addition to Gary’s work which has previously yielded the discovery of four different mindsets. Gary’s 2016 Psychology Today blog titled, Mindsets, outlines the four mindsets uncovered across a variety of domains: 1) a preoccupation with failure versus an eagerness for discoveries, 2) a desire to build trust, 3) seeking voluntary cooperation, and 4) investigator versus procedural mindset. Although the comedy mindset can be a helpful tool in allowing us to appreciate difficult and frustrating situations, it might not be appropriate for every situation. Part of the expertise in employing a comedy mindset is knowing when it is and isn’t an effective tool for a given situation.