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Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #45: Overreact

PRETEND: Overreact
In the Land of Fools, for every action, there is an opposite and unequal reaction. In other words, an acorn hits a foolish chicken's head and it screams, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

Fools drop into a deep despair over stubbing a toe, burst into a rage after losing at solitaire, or have an orgasm of joy while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. They play with their own emotions to reach a state where the intellect hides. Fools need excess emotional energy to make creative leaps. Overreacting provides that fuel, even if it may be overkill. Better to go past the edge of the chasm than to fall short.

You calculate a possible overreaction, manufacture the emotion, get caught up in the moment, get what you need, and then let it go. Watch Harpo Marx here at about 2 minutes and 25 seconds into this clip as he reacts to Chico's provocations, with the reaction building until it finally goes into his hat, the emotion vanishes as he smiles, and then immediately returns.

Many of the Looney Tunes characters, like Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and the Tasmanian Devil, had what could be perceived as enormous overreactions, except, when you look at the extreme situations they were in, you could argue that they are perfectly justified. Many people usually suppress reasonable but outlandish responses to an insane world.

Sometimes the unequal reaction is to under-react. Laurel and Hardy were masters of both under-reacting and overreacting to calamities they inflicted on each other and others inflicted on them.

Think: How could I overreact in this situation? What if I under-reacted? What did I discover by traveling outside my comfort zone?

Next: How to Think Like a Fool #46: Go Through the Motions

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