Millions of us grew up loving Mary Poppins. That staight-laced nanny who was "practically perfect in every way" certainly had a way of injecting fun into people's lives! From going to the bank to connecting new friends to the cartoon derby, Mary Poppins embodies the concepts of freedom through discipline and discipline through fun. When coaching extremely driven clients who want both success and personal growth, I often "prescribe" what I call "The Mary Poppins Principle." Here's how it works:
"A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down"
Have you ever tried to go through an entire day without having any fun at all? Ever go to work and purposely refuse to crack a smile? "No, not purposely," you might say, "But sometimes my work really isn't any fun at all." For some reason, when people receive money, they can sometimes justify a lack of fun, but it still doesn't make them love their jobs, and it doesn't make them any more successful.
Think of Mr. Banks (the father), for example. He goes to the bank every single day and comes home an unhappy, irritable man--but he makes a decent living. He never laughs until he tells the joke his son told him about "the man with a wooden leg named Smith." ("What's the name of his other leg?") For the first time ever, Mr. Banks has fun at work, and he thinks he's fired--because what can work and fun possibly have in common? He feels liberated to leave his job behind, even though he no longer sees any means for financial security. He commits to fun. And what happens? He receives a promotion precisely because of his joke, which made the crotchety old boss die laughing--the happiest anyone had ever seen him. A spoonful of sugar--a little fun--makes every task more palatable, just like it makes castor oil taste good for the Banks children.
It also makes the work of personal growth much easier to swallow. People so often associate things like meditation, spirituality and following their path with hard work. Work hard, play hard, right? Nope, work hard, work even more! No wonder they find their lives a bit lackluster. Who wants to work all week at a job they know does not align with their greater purpose only to spend their weekend pondering how much effort and dour soul searching the path to purpose will eventually require? Who really wants to deprive themselves of all the frivolities of life so they can receive an imaginary diploma from Enlightened University?
I encourage everyone to add a spoonful of sugar to every unpleasant or boring aspect of life, but especially to spiritual pursuits. When we associate something with fun, we tend to engage in it more often. We also release control, a fact that helps us break through prior limitations. When we stop taking ourselves and our lives so seriously--when we inject some fun into the journey--our eyes twinkle, and so does our mind. Creative juices start flowing, and surprising solutions reveal themselves like uncontrollable giggles. Punch lines become strokes of genius. Mr. Banks spreads laughter, and the laughter performs its own work. People around him start living from a place of love and gratitude.
"The More I Laugh (ha ha ha ha), the More I Fill with Glee"
Ever hear of Laughter Yoga? Hey, this is some seriously good stuff. People join together and instead of holding pretzel poses or sweating out toxins at 104 degrees, they laugh! Over 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs exist now in 60 countries. Participants find the unconventional practice offers boons like greater relaxation, feelings of oneness with the universe, unconditional compassion, spontaneous moments of joy. People bond while chuckling together, even when they can't explain what's so funny.
Good for the soul, good for the body: scientists already know laughter speeds recovery from illness and injury. It feeds the blood with rich supplies of oxygen, and healthy cells thrive in a high oxygen environment. Laughter lowers high blood pressure, creates painkilling endorphins and massages our internal glands and organs just like traditional yoga poses. It also reduces stress, which lowers the cortisol that leads to fat tummies. Belly laughs also provide a great abdominal workout. Wanna lose that gut and awaken your heart chakra? Have six guffaws and call me in the morning.
"Good Luck Will Rub Off When I Shake 'ands with You"
Ah, Bert, Mary Poppins' chimney sweeping friend! He spends his days "in the ashes and smoke" but "in this 'ole wide world, there's no happier bloke." Bert goes into the darkness every single day. He clears out ashes, gets covered in soot, but he still manages to attract friends like the magical Mary Poppins. He also works a day job and yet finds time for creative pursuits like chalk drawings and dancing. Because he sees himself as lucky, Bert becomes so, and his artwork takes on a life of its own. He feels so happy that he wants to share his luck, and in doing so, he gets showered with even more blessings and love.
The jovial chimney sweep also teaches us something about timing. In that phenomenal rooftop choreography, we see Bert and the other sweeps making fantastic leaps of faith, twirling through the air, walking on impossibly narrow and high walls, and always landing safely. They move through the air and around each other with ease and grace, and why does it all work? Timing. Fun with discipline. By approaching life as a dance, even unglamorous activities and slow periods become dynamic expressions of Spirit. If you don't believe in the power of dance to create unity, Google "Dancing with the Universe" and watch the video. When we dance, our hearts open and we share joy, luck, and love with everyone around us. Then more of those things start spinning towards us in the complex jig of synchronicity. Timing matters, and we can learn to trust where and how we step at any given moment.
Who cares what it sounds like? And who cares if it's a real word? It became one because people started using it. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a nonsense word that describes exactly how it feels: fantastic! Mary Poppins uses it to express her effortless win at the cartoon derby. Mr. Banks uses it when he feels the freedom to walk away from a dead-end job. The children sing it while they march around the house.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious teaches us about Essence--the deepest and most playful part of our being. When we initially let our true selves show, some people react. At first, Mr. Banks can't stand having his son James and servants sing that "silly word." He orders everyone around him to stop the nonsense. Something about the word itself grates on his nerves, highlighting the difference between his enculturated life vs. the more authentic lives of those around him. Mr. Banks tries to bury his feelings, and in so doing allows the word to plant its potent seed. With the right combination of stress, loss of control, laughter and freedom, that seed begins to sprout until Mr. Banks grows into ... himself! He becomes the lighthearted child AND the successful businessman; the doting father and husband AND the powerful provider. Mr. Banks becomes the most beautiful and lively version of himself. Once he does, Mary Poppins can move on to another family because Mr. Banks and all the lives he touches will begin to feel Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. ... And so it goes ...
So honor your most ridiculous thoughts, words and dreams. Insist on fun with discipline. Dance like no one's looking. Let yourself feel lucky. Laugh! Follow the Mary Poppins Principle, and let your weirdness shine. Your soul and the world will thank you.
Laura Bruno is a Life Coach, Medical Intuitive and Reiki Master Teacher who believes in making life transitions fun. In addition to private coaching and intuitive sessions, she teaches Conscious Eating 101 classes, Intuition workshops and Reiki Certification classes around the country and in beautiful the San Francisco area. For more information on classes, raw food coaching, transitional coaching, animal communication, and letting your gifts shine through your career, please see: www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com or call 775-750-9140.
Laura also wrote the book, "If I Only Had a Brain Injury," which explores The Wizard of Oz as a model for healing from so-called medical mysteries, available at www.ifionlyhadabraininjury.com, Amazon and other online retailers.