My super-cute six year old daughter was eating oats on the couch last Sunday, and I just happened to have a two hour open house showing scheduled later that morning. As I left to the kitchen to get more coffee, as is my usual custom, I returned to find her patting the couch with a paper towel.
I knew exactly what happened. She spilled the entire bowl of oats and was frantically trying to half clean it up and half cover up the event. So, what did I do? I yelled and screamed, because, dammit, it was oats on a couch! Have you ever tried to get oats out of a couch when you’re trying to sell a house?
Nah. I’m kidding. I actually smiled, laughed, and told her that next time she spills something, she should coordinate the color of it to match the couch.
We cleaned it up and agreed that a slightly wet and oat-stained couch had to be good enough for whoever came through the house later, and if they rejected the house based on that, they could buy someone else’s house. We don’t want uptight people buying our house.
Not that I have it down 24/7, but my response was an example of “amused mastery.” I’ve seen a lot of attempts at defining the phrase, and they are often long, drawn out, and unclear.
Here is a simple definition: amused mastery is taking a “big picture” outlook that life is a fun game you’ve mastered, so you respond to challenges and stress in a confident, relaxed, detached, and amused way.
I laughed that my daughter spilled oats, because oats spilled on a couch means nothing in the big picture of things. I’ve run tough mudders, written seven books, and spoken in front of hundreds of people. Oats on a couch? Eh. It’s nothing. If anything, it is kind of humorous that this happened right before an open house.
Children often naturally have amused mastery. They laugh a lot, and see everything as game and a chance to explore. They don’t really “fail”; they simply learn. They fall and get up again. It’s only after uptight adults have gotten a hold of them that kids start viewing life as a horrible chore.
So, you hit on a girl at a club who responds, “leave me alone shorty,” amused mastery dictates that you find her rude comments laughable. In the grand scheme of things, some club hopper mentioning your height means nothing. So, you can respond, with a giant, relaxed, semi-cocky smile, “Short? That’s weird…my midget friends all call me ‘biggie.'”
Why respond like this? Because you’re having fun; life is fun. If she doesn’t laugh or find that comment amusing, so what? Again, you’re having fun and that’s all that matters.
Responding with amused mastery is not only a way to relieve stress and get the proper perspective on life, but it is also extremely attractive.
Women love non-needy, secure, confident, and funny guys.
A friend of mine has a snapchat contact always asking for money from desperate guys. What does he do? He sends her random clips of the TV show “King of the Hill.” Why? Because it’s fun. It beats getting angry about it, or even worse, sending her money.
Sometimes amused mastery does mean being serious. After all, any game requires a serious response at times. Empathy, assertiveness, boldness, etc., all can be proper responses, if coming from a place of amused mastery as opposed to insecure desperation or out of control emotions.
I should add that you don’t just suddenly become an “amused master” just because you want to be, although having that intention is important.
You also have to develop the social and emotional skills to deal with life effectively. Emotion regulation, charm, communications skills, etc, can all be learned, practiced, and become habitual. The premise of our entire website, books, and business is that it is possible to change with enough knowledge and practice.
So, start becoming an amused master! You’ll find that life is a pretty fun game.