Humor and Flexibility
Humor is a great medicine for an excessive sense of self-importance, as it is a sign of inner security and self-esteem. We need to laugh with the people at our mistakes-we make many of them learning a new culture, and they are often very funny.
Remember, people are not laughing at us, but at our strange ways and our cultural faux pas. Learning to laugh with them helps us overcome the fear of failure that so often keeps us from trying something new. We learn new cultures best when we try and fail, laugh, try again, and learn from our mistakes.
Flexibility, too, is a remedy for stress. We are often cantankerous, unbending, and authoritarian when we are self-centered or uncertain. Then every change in plans and every unexpected event generate a great deal of internal stress.
But it is hard to program life, particularly in cross-cultural situations and in vocations that relate to people. It is important, therefore, that we hold our plans lightly and are flexible in our lifestyles and in our dealings with human beings.
Paul Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries