Thinking Out Loud – Ep: 02 – The Warrior, The Philosopher, and The Frog

In Episode 01, we talked about the third option when faced with uncertainty: Flow.

Today, we dig deeper. In “The Warrior, The Philosopher, and The Frog,” we then discover our secret weapon in uncertain times….. laughter!

Transcript:

Andrew J Mason:

This is Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier, Episode 02: The Warrior, The Philosopher, and The Frog. Welcome to Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name is Andrew J. Mason, and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life-changing halftime inspiration, and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe’s playbook to pull it all together when we’re on the field. Each week, we’ll hit a different topic, and today we’re actually extending on Episode 01. Uh, If you missed it, we talked all about uncertainty and our canned human responses, fight, flight, and now our newly discovered third option, flow. And here’s Dr. Joe with three roles that fill into that idea; The Warrior, The Philosopher, and The Frog.

Dr. Joe Currier:

You know, in a recent podcast, it was suggested that, that a lot of folks hold a hero adventure story in their mind. Someone somewhere is on the verge of developing a vaccine to put out this epidemic fire, this pandemic fire, and, um, there’s no question. One of the questions is that, what if you and I could think of other psychosocial vaccines to dampen the damage of the impact of this virus and future viruses? While the scientists are working, we can get to work also, and help better manage the impact of uncertainty, change and isolation. We’ve talked about the historic fight, flight reaction, and believe that we have a third antibody that we can fight, flee, or with this third antibody, we can flow.

Dr. Joe Currier:

And I’d like to share some thoughts on a type of inoculation to expand our capacity to flow, key forces that allow our authentic self to thrive under very difficult situations. So instead of asking our listening partners to imagine a vaccine to halt the impact of any virus, I would rather demonstrate how imagination is the vaccine. Imagination is not make-believe. Please hold onto those two words. It’s not make-believe as in a Disney fairy tale, some type of fantasy. Instead, it is, here comes the two words, make-believe, as in the power to make things happen, positive forces in the face of the tsunami of negativity. Imagination is the mind making believe and the body responding.

Dr. Joe Currier:

You know, beginning with the child story, he little engine that could, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can,” one has to wonder how many children have laid in bed listening to the encouraging story about believing in your own self, or adults have listened to the success wisdom of business giants, like Andrew Carnegie, who said, “When you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re always right.” Again, focusing on the power of positive thinking.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So in a spirit of imagination is a mind-body vaccine that can focus the power of the Chi, we’ve got to get busy. Now, Chi is a vital force of nature. It’s an ancient term, thousands of years old, and it translates into the word “energy.” It is our life force, our energy flow, and Chi is an essential underlying principle in both the medicine, as our scientists get cranking, as well as, by the way, the martial arts.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So, I use it as a center of the relaxation triangle, a model that I use, and it says that there are three critical dynamic forces. First, stop action. At the very top of the triangle is a big, red stop sign. It wants us to stop our thoughts and our behaviors for just a moment. At the solid base of the triangle is the body-mind vaccine. Belly breathing is the body force, four-cycle healing breath. And mind matrix, the other side of the lower part of the triangle, is the psychological component. And matrix is the connective relationship, kind of like connective tissue in the body, but in this time, it’s the different parts of the authentic self that we’re trying to connect here.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So, as we look at the inoculation to build a healthier self in the face of pandemics and beyond, we face the warrior, the philosopher, and the frog. They’re representations of my whole self. And as I develop a long, the needs hierarchy, Maslow’s term, needs, human needs, I go from safety and satisfaction to affiliation and expression, to mission and purpose.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Now, I’ve said in a poetic sense, and ask for a little leeway here, that I use pens to write life epics. Once pens are our choices, choices I make in the mindset matrix, again, simply pathways, three potential pathways; the way of the warrior, the philosopher, or the frog. The warrior is about safety, affiliation, and expression. There are times that we defend and carefront, as in karate. Other times, in the warrior stand, we give way in order to unite the patience of partnership, as in Tai Chi. In the third part of this warrior stance is to strive for authenticity, keeping the main thing the main thing.

Dr. Joe Currier:

My dear friend, Dr. Les Frankfurt, a survivor of the holocaust, told me that in the darkest days when he was in the camps, he would look for the least bit of sunlight early in the morning, and he would try and face that sun. And he told me that he would raise his hands and his arms, and he would say to himself in his mind, “I stand tall, I stand whole, I stand well and I stand free. The warrior has to go to wartimes combat? Yes, like our ER physicians, but the warrior itself is an outward-facing role that we play.

Dr. Joe Currier:

We lead, we follow, but we do not hide. We have power and authority, at times with rank and role, but whenever possible, we give those to other people, and we use influence as our prerogative. Whenever possible, we can do no harm. We’re here to promote healing, which leads us to the second role or the second pathway, the philosopher.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Philosophy is around creating a map, the motivation and purpose, M-A-P, motivation, why I do what I do. And the second level of that is my purpose, mission strategy, the principles I live by. And the philosopher first connects the dots, understanding what, then so what, now what? The marker events, the “what has happened in my life” has shaped my beliefs, my attitudes, my behaviors.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The at risk point here is we also sometimes model the behavior of significant people in our marker events, good people who meant well, but may have under or overreacted in their role as parent, coach, teacher, whatever it might be. “What,” the marker events, “so what,” again, the beliefs, the habits, behaviors lead to “now what,” how I show up in my next event. But the philosopher asks, “Does it serve us on our way? Do we keep the main thing the main thing? Do we know what the main thing is.”

Dr. Joe Currier:

I have worked on my life mission for many years and continue to try to not only to further understand and define it, but also to focus it. And my mission is to live mindfully in the service of others. Again, we have the warrior, the philosopher, and frankly, a frog. It’s a part of us, the part that leaps from uncertainty to chaos, that at times looks for avoidance, the chameleon impact, what others expect we shape ourself to meet the expectation to please others. At times, as the frog, we will not lead. When we don’t follow, we hide. And vulnerability is a bad word. We don’t show our vulnerability.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The important point of these three pathways are roles. They’re like hats that we wear. The question is, is at the right hat and the right voice? We’ve talked about this in another version, which is in business or in the family, where we look at the roles of the expert, the manager and the leader, whether at home or at work. Knowing the role that best aligns with the task in the event, do we use positive versus negative expressions of the role? And do we align the hat with the voice? You know, we will see parents at time, who are trying to lead within the family, leadership is around connecting in terms of showing the way, listening, seeing where an individual is coming from, so that we can build a bridge rather than burn bridges.

Dr. Joe Currier:

When we bring a harsh voice in and hold a person highly accountable, we are now taking off the hat of the leader and leading into the voice of a manager. It’s a different voice, not a bad voice. We will talk more about this version of right voice with the right hat. But for now, let me just simply say that imagination is a vaccine to halt any virus, the three parts to create this inner balance called Chi, this flow, keeping ourself in terms of the healthy and healing flow under good times and in bad.

Dr. Joe Currier:

There are three parts to this. At the top is the stop action, like seeing a stop sign and saying stop. Next is belly breathing. Four cycles of healing. Breathing in slowly, pausing, and then exhaling and letting it go, opening your mind’s eyes to see through the eyes of the warrior. When necessary, the philosopher always is being careful to watch for the frog. It’s human, but it’s not okay. You and I can do better.

Dr. Joe Currier:

What if we could inoculate ourselves against this stress? We can do that. There’s a time to fight and flee in the short term, but in the long term, you and I need to be ready to flow.

Andrew J Mason:

Dr. Joe, I love, uh, that we get to have this time and zoom in from the inspiration down to the practical tactical level, we like to call it. And, uh, one of the things that you mentioned before we started our conversation was that there is a, just a secret weapon that aids in the fight of all of, uh, against all of this uncertainty. Uh, and I’d like for you to maybe talk about laughter and what laughter’s role is in all of this.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Absolutely. One of the methodologies that we’re asking people to look at in terms of the adaptation energy is a question around comic vision. It’s not necessarily being funny, but can you see funny. You know, one of the things that happens under distress is we tend to look at half empty and the pessimistic sides of things. You know, there’s a fellow named Dr. Patch Adams. I had the privilege of working with him many, many years ago. Robin Williams did a movie about him. And he said, “Once people laugh, they’re open. And once they’re open, miracles happen.” The question around comic vision is, it’s not even just by the way true laughter, laughter, it’s a matter of looking at a child’s face.

Dr. Joe Currier:

I had been struggling with some real issues medically, and my wife sent me this picture of this little infant with a pug near it. And she said to me, “Here’s your hug for the day.” And every time I looked at this beautiful little baby lying there with his pug in different, you know, little scenes that a, a dog and a child can have, I couldn’t help but laugh. And by the way, every time I laugh, it’s factual, my white blood cell count goes up. So I’m actually have an army or fighters inside of me with a giggle and a hug.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So I look for opportunities. When I was gonna have my prostate out, I had prostate cancer, I had a party. And I wrote a poem, and I said, “Come on over. I’m gonna say goodbye to my prostate.” And I wrote “The ode to my prostate. Goodbye, old friend.” And I gave everybody plastic gloves, by the way. I didn’t let him use them. But what else can one do when they’re going into battle? The doctors who ought to be well. I had to make sure that I could have some type of joy and peace inside of myself, because laughter is part of that.

Dr. Joe Currier:

And again, how is your laugh life? And again, do you have comic vision? Are you seeing funny? It’s there. It’s there.

Andrew J Mason:

Dr.Joe, if I may even just push back a little bit. I can even hear our audience members some of them saying, “Okay, yeah, I understand laughing is great. That’s wonderful.” But why be so passionate about this topic? I mean, to you, it sounds like it’s more than just a nice to have?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Humor is hazardous to an illness. Humor is actually an anecdote against getting ill. Like I say, there’s a connection between joy, laughter, that deep inner peace and what happens in our white blood cell counts. When you hear the negative news, it takes the white blood cell counts, when I need this army to go to war from me, it diminishes, it weakens them. So laughter, all my heavens, it’s one of the best medicines.

Dr. Joe Currier:

There’s a phenomenal book by gentleman named Dr. Bernie Siegel, “Love, Medicine and Miracles.” You know, love has a magic to it. Medicine, yes, but the laughter, keeping a frame of mind, things may happen, and they’re going to happen. But how I managed them, and how I surround myself with healthy people, who are going to keep me focused on the main thing going forward that rose you in the better times, it diminishes my pain, it heals the body, and boy, oh, boy, it creates this inner spirits. It’s just so powerful.

Andrew J Mason:

Okay. So I can buy that. If laughter is so important then, and there’s so much research saying this is a positive thing, why aren’t more people doing this?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Andrew, at every moment, you and I face choices. And here’s one of the things I tell people, and I tell them, “I know you’re not gonna be happy with what I’m saying,” and may even say I’m full of baloney. And that is in most situations, people choose to suffer. They don’t choose to live authentically. They repeat the past. They tend to be des-defensive and make excuses. They refuse to take reasonable risks. They make the irrational rational. They make up stories in their mind that are catastrophic, versus living authentically.

Dr. Joe Currier:

It starts out by experiencing some degree of pain, because change can be stressful. You know, it doesn’t, all of a sudden, have a magic wand to it. It takes some inner trust here and a belief that it can lower that distress, and I’m gonna open the doors to new possibilities. It’s a world of possibilities.

Andrew J Mason:

Thank you so much, Dr. Joe. And thank you for sharing with us the importance of laughter. I mean, I don’t think that can be understated. Uh, I think it’s a perfect spot for us to leave today’s episode.

Dr. Joe Currier:

I hope so, because, again, it’s, uh, been a real friend to me and it’s helped me on my 75 plus years through good times and in bad.

Andrew J Mason:

Thank you, Dr. Joe. And thank you for being so generous with your time with us today. And our thanks to all of you for listening as well. We are so honored by how the first episode was received. And, uh, if you would, uh, we’d love it if you would just continue to subscribe, like, share, uh, anything that you can do to get the word out about this wisdom that Dr. Joe is sharing with the world, it’s so important. And until next time, this was “Thinking Out Loud” with Dr. Joe Currier. Leadership Transformation, Growth Acceleration.