by: David Leonhardt a.k.a. The Happy Guy
(text of a mini-keynote speech
by David Leonhardt,, a.k.a. The Happy Guy which brought the house down in
Gatineau, Quebec, April 21, 2002)
Has anybody here ever been stuck
in traffic for a frustratingly long time? Put up your hand if you have.
Oooh! Don’t you just hate that?
And some people don’t mind showing us how much they hate it. We call it road
Has anybody ever waited in a
ticket lineup or a checkout lineup for a frustratingly long time? Let me see
Believe it or not, some people
don’t like that either. We call it lineup rage.
Has anybody ever been stuck
waiting in a doctor’s office for a frustratingly long time? Let me see those
And then you see somebody
suddenly jump up and tear his hair out and scream, “Let me out. I’ve been here
three hours. Three days. Three months!” Well, I really should apologize. I
didn’t mean to scare your kids. I was just demonstrating waiting room rage.
Let me tell you a story about
the Lwangwa River Valley – that’s in Africa, you know. The dry season there
gets very dry. My throat is getting dry just thinking about it. The Lwangwa
River stops rushing. It slows to a trickle. Finally, it stops flowing. And all
that are left are pools of water, here and there.
One by one, the animals head to
higher ground. To forest cover. To other water holes. Anywhere they can find
food or drink. Just like we will all do late. Did I say all the animals? Not
all. Not the hippos.
The hippos stay in their river
at it slows to a stream. They stay in the stream as it turns into pools. They
stay in the pools as they shrink into puddles. As the puddles shrink, the
hippos get more crowded. As the hippos get more crowded, they get surly.
Cranky. Grumpy. They gnash their teeth. They poke at each other. They pick
fights. It’s river rage!
Has anyone ever come face to
face with a raging hippopotamus? Don’t be shy. Go ahead, put up your hands.
Sure, when we’re young – I’m sure you all remember this as I do – we’re taught
that they’re slow, cute, and cuddly. They might even be pink or purple and do
those dances in tutus like in Fantasia. But in the real world they have teeth
the size of your head. They can run faster than anyone in this room. And they
weight upwards of 5,000 pounds. I mean, they are BIG! If you’re ever at a
cocktail party and a hippopotamus starts, you know, flirting with you, whatever
you do, do not let him sit on your lap.
Rage is all the rage these days.
Road rage. Lineup rage. Waiting room rage. Even river rage. You may also have
heard of parking lot rage, elevator rage and airplane rage. What gives? Is the
world getting angrier or just more crowded?
Both. It’s a fact that as our
space and time grow increasingly crowded, our stress levels rise.
When it comes to space, we are
cramming more people into more crowded cities, elevators, airplanes, stores.
Our patience diminishes. Our good will diminishes. Our tolerance diminishes.
Has anyone noticed they place the chairs at conferences – you noticed! -- so close
together that even skinny people get to know each other well. My theory is that
the hotels are trying to develop their own niche rage market: conference
Let’s look at our schedules.
What are we trying to do? We’re trying to see how many items we can squeeze
onto our “to do” list, and how many activities we can cram into a day. And the
stress, where does it go? Right up there, exactly.
I want to share this one little
thought with you. We are in the process of moving, so we actually have two
homes. Stress that builds in my stacked concrete box apartment they call a
condo, I can’t get rid of. It sticks. I can’t shake it off. It won’t go. It
sticks. When I’m at my farm house just a few miles south of here, surrounded by
grass and trees, it’s amazing how quickly I can just excommunicate the stress.
Can I say that? Excommunicate? Why not?
OK. What have we learned today?
Three lessons, so please take note.
Number one, don’t let your space
get too crowded.
Number two, don’t let your
schedule get too crowded.
Number three, and this is the
most important of all, don’t ever, ever let a hippopotamus sit on your lap.
About The Author
David Leonhardt is The Happy
Guy, and author of Climb your Stairway
to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness.
NuPathz.com – Your affordable source for self improvement and self help books & materials
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