Developing good coping strategies is important not just for us as individuals, but also for teams, communities, and even whole countries.
I’m from Romania, an Eastern European country that was under Soviet and Communist dictatorship for more than 40 years. We dealt with poverty, food shortages, and the constant threat of going to prison for saying something “wrong” to our friends or neighbors. There were tough times, although for me as a child it didn’t feel that bad.
So how did Romanians cope with all the hardship? I’m sure there were many, but one way I can remember of was tragicomic humor. Jokes about our “beloved” leaders, their party, and the tragic situation everybody was living in, were everywhere. Here is an example:
In Ceausescu’s time (Ceausescu was our “cherished” dictator back then), a stamp with Ceausescu came out. Ceausescu, disguised, goes to a post office to see how the stamp is sold.
“It’s not for sale,” says the clerk.
- It does not stick.
Ceausescu asks for a stamp, spits on the glue, puts it on an envelope and shows it to the clerk:
- Why do you say it doesn’t stick? Look, it’s sticking!
“Yes,” says the clerk, “but they’re all spitting on the other side.” 😂
We would “laugh it off” on every occasion.