Today’s special is a certified humor professional, certified stress mastery educator,  master listener and author, Sporty King. Sporty talks about using humor as a coping tool for anxiety and other mental health issues.

  • Laughter is a part of humor but not a requirement. 
  • Sporty’s view on these two different extremes: people may take themselves too seriously or they may make everything a joke.
  • How Sporty became a master listener at the same time a public speaker
  • The healing power of laughter and the study of healthy humor
  • Helpful advice for those who mask their feelings with humor
  • How Sporty use humor to help people master their stress and anxiety
  • Does God have a sense of humor?

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Sporty King 

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Transcript pf Episode 58

Carrie: Welcome to Hope For Anxiety and OCD. I’m your host Carrie Bock. And today on the show, we are talking with Sporty King, who is a Master Listener, Stress Master Educator, and Certified Humor Professional to talk with us about humor. I did not know prior to meeting Sporty that you could be a certified humor professional, but I find this very interesting and intriguing. And I think we’re going to get into a great conversation today. Even though you’re a public speaker, why would you say that you’re a master listener? That seems like a contradiction a little bit there. 

Sporty: Great and say that’s part of the beauty of life and humor is the contradictions. Listening is actually the number one communication skill.

So what happens is, we tend to hear people say that they’re motivational speakers, you know, they’re speakers, but the truth is you have to listen when you speak, you should be sharing. And so you share the information that went in and you’ll see then, later on I taught her some things that will really show you why I call myself the master of listening.

And, the reason I also came up with that moniker is instead of saying, I’m a master, a master of ceremonies, I’m a master of listening. I will listen throughout in a conference for instance, awards,  a banquet or whatever. And I listen to the things that people say, and then I do what I collect the words and then at the end, I will actually create a poem on the spot that grabs the spirit of what went on in that tribute or the conference as well. And so that’s why , another reason I call, the master of listening.

Carrie: Wow. That’s impressive. Poems on the spot. Awesome. You told me that laughter is a part of humor, but not a requirement. So tell us more about that. 

Sporty: Yeah, you see, humor is actually the quality that makes something amusing or laughable, whereas laughter is actually the biological reaction. So laughter is that outward expression of humor. So, you know, it’s just like we hear people say I got a good sense of humor. You can have a sense of humor and not actually not laugh, at all. Gosh, let me tell you this last batch that I just had earlier in my speaking business, a disease called R R F D

Carrie: Ok? 

Sporty: And it stands for reflex dystrophy or  Reflex, Dystrophy, Sympathy, RDS. And so I’m speaking to this group as I’m talking and I’m laughing and I’m talking. And about 10 minutes into the presentation, one of the persons in front of us said, “ Sporty”  because no one laughed while I’m talking.

And she said, “ I just want you to know that we are really enjoying you. But this disease is a cross between cancer and arthritis and actually laughing is painful sometimes.”  So it gives you another look at, when people talk about being speakers, we got to reach your audience and go with their moods. You can’t always do that because you don’t know, you know, someone who you think is looking stoic or uninterested may be the most involved, engaged person in your audience. But you don’t know whether to have a disease or what type of trauma they’re going through in their life that they are thinking about, so they, you know, say may not be responding the way you want them to.

So that’s just, you know, one of the early lessons I got in my speaking career, and I love it. 

Carrie: Somebody took a nap one time while I was speaking at a conference and I just figured that they really needed that nap at that time . I tried not to take any offense to it, but I was like, “ Man, this is rough here.” I wasn’t even after lunch or anything.

Sporty: See? Because that laugh at large you see from speaking after lunch, I’ll open the session by saying, “ Welcome to sleep therapy.” 

Carrie: Yeah 

Sporty: But, but yeah, maybe your voice was so calming that that allowed them to get that rest that they need. 

Carrie: There you go.

Sporty: Again, switching, switching things up.

Carrie: Yeah. One of the reasons that I wanted to talk about humor on a show that has to do with anxiety, is because I know somebody who’s tuning in right now going, “ Why in the world are they even talking about this on the anxiety show here?”

But I noticed that if people aren’t careful that they struggle with anxiety, they can really fall into two different traps. And one is, they may take themselves too seriously and they have a hard time just finding that sense of humor and maybe making light of some things that happen in our lives. I think that’s a skill that we all have to kind of develop to, I don’t know how to stay sane and get through some difficulties. But then on the other trap, they may make everything a joke and just kind of joke their way through life and avoid really diving into some of those difficult feelings they might actually need to feel. I’m curious about, you know, your thoughts on those two different extremes.

Sporty: So let’s jump right on that word you use twice, feelings. Say because the key is no emotion is wrong. And sometimes we have to recognize how you feel.  You should feel nervous . You should feel anxious.  You should feel excited. You should feel great. You should feel sad. No emotion is wrong. But the key is how do we choose to then deal with the emotion?

Like you say, “ I’m not taking myself too seriously?”  or “ Am I hiding how I feel with jokes?” I see anxiety and excitement as fraternal twins. We both recreate a reaction in the body of what’s about to come and how I’m going to perform. “ Am I being judged because we’re judging ourselves?”  All of that is there. We can just as quickly make it trivial, but the same way you say, “ Oh my God, I don’t think I’m going to do well. I’m feeling scared. I’m nervous.”  We can just as easily say, “ Man, I’m excited. I’m about to do a great job and make a difference in people’s lives.”  The brain doesn’t say, “ Oh, Siri here. That’s correct. That you’re nervous. You’re scared. Now the brain goes with what you are telling. Sometimes, like I said, it’s not necessarily going to be easy, but it’s a commitment. And so, if I’m taking myself too seriously, the key becomes the world throws around and that is truth, truth, and trust. You know, you’ve got to  be honest with yourself because sometimes , the people who take themselves too seriously, I think it is because they, they won’t let anybody else in who will say to them,  “ Hey, look, you’re doing this.” And then therefore now to  have a chance to correct it. 

Carrie: And sometimes humor, you know, requires a certain level of vulnerability because you don’t know, like, is the other person going to find this funny? Are they going to get it? Or they, you know, sometimes you’re dancing on that line of, they’re  going to be offended by the joke I just made or something of that nature too.

Sporty: Yeah, I’m a member of a, you mentioned my CHP, is it Certified Humor Professional. I’m a member of an organization called A  A T H and it’s just the “ Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.”  We believe in the healing power of laughter, but also in the study of healthy humor . So say, you know, when you’re wondering, “ How is someone going to  react to this?” Well, flip that coin and , “ How am I going to deliver this?” 

Carrie: That’s good. So for people who use humor to like, hide their feelings, do you have any ideas or recommendations about how they might start to shift to that a little bit?

Sporty: It’s funny because I think when we, even, when we think about that humor style for most people, young and old, I think even a lot of young people know Rodney Dangerfield. And that was his style, just totally self-deprecating humor. You know, it’s funny when you have to figure out,

 “ Does he really feel that bad about himself or is he aware that sometimes the humor actually can trivialize and cut that anxiety down, make the anxiety? ”  No, you don’t have the best of me,  master of listening.

I’d like to use the English language and massage it. Right? So ,Hope as the name of your show. I hope it’s one of my, I call them my act formations because their acronyms,  that are affirmations  and my act formation for hope is, “ Having OverPowered Evil” . So therefore if you get into that state where you are, that to me, that’s how you can laugh in anxiety’s face.

“ Oh no, you can’t beat me.” See, we can beat. If our problems just popped up one at a time, we have no problem. We can beat them one at a time. 

Carrie: Sure, sure. That makes sense.

Sporty:  Yeah, the challenge is when they come in DRO and then we think that we can’t. And so now we backed out. I actually, I know I want to round the field on that, but I take that back to where I’m saying a person, who’s making a joke.

That could be a way of standing up to their anxiety and saying, “ You know what? Hey, I’m not going to take it that seriously. I am going to get through this and see things come out in a positive vein for myself.”

Carrie: I know sometimes when you look back on a situation, not when you’re in the middle of it and you’re anxious and you’re in the middle of it and you’re worried and you’re anxious.

It feels so real. And like, it feels like that bad thing really is going to happen. But sometimes after you’ve had some time and distance from it and the bad thing didn’t happen, you can look back and it can be funny. It’s like, “ Oh wow! I can’t believe I was so worried . I was so convinced that that thing was going to happen and actually it just never happened. “

Sporty: Self-fulfilling prophecies. When we decide bad it’s going to happen. We just need to wait for it to catch up. Even if you think, look at comedians, the best jokes are the truths. They don’t make a lot of those things up. 

Carrie: Sure. Yeah. Absolutely. You are also working with people who are, uh, you know, coming back from deployments or are getting ready to go on a deployment with the military. And that’s some of where you use the stress mastery education. I’m curious, how do you help people use humor to help master their stress?

Sporty:  My form of using it is similar to what I, what I did with the HOPE thing. I call it controlling your vocabulary, rather than allowing your vocabulary to control you. See ,if we can put all of the stuff together that I talked about, the AATH, stress mastery that the act formation controls your vocabulary. And if you decide that I’m going to have a positive vocabulary, it actually helps you again, because your brain is going to go with whatever you say and you tell your brain,  “ Hey, we’re in a great situation right here. We’re not anxious and nervous. We’re excited.” And in fact, one of the biggest examples, people are afraid of public speaking. They get up there and they say, “ Oh my God! What if I screw up?”And you know, “ What, if I knocked my notes over?”,  you know? So they come up with all of these reasons and no one’s going to pay attention and you could just as easily. And again, I used the word easily, but I never ever realized. You can say, “ Man, when I get up here and I start talking, I am going to knock the shoes off of these people.”

Okay. So you can, I saw this on TV. So now all I have to do is be the hero that I saw giving this speech on TV because you’ve been asked to speak. So sometimes we erase the gift in favor of the challenge. And so you’ve been asked to speak that that was a gift to you instead of you accepting what has been given to you, you decide, but I’m not the right one.

Hey,  sounds like,  “ Bows this to me, you know?” ,  I mean. 

Carrie: Not me. I don’t think I can do this task. Yeah. I mean, that leads into my next question, which is, “ Do you believe God has a sense of humor?” 

Sporty: Absolutely do. And I think that if you believe in God, think you kind of have to, because if you believe in what’s, the premise of, of us is that we’re made in God’s image.

So if we are made in God’s image, we have the characteristics of God. Therefore, our sense of humor is a characteristic of God’s . We are the living sense of humor of God. 

Carrie: Yeah. That’s awesome. Absolutely.

Sporty:  I’ll check with Him on that by the way. 

Carrie: You’ll, you’ll ask Him. We had a funny experience in our household this week, actually. We sat down to pray at the dinner table and my husband’s no sooner as he gets,  “ Dear God”, out. Then we started to hear this music and it’s like, uh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. And we’re like, “ What in the world is that?” The ice cream truck was passing by like right at the time where he goes to pray. And it was like trying to pray the pop goes the weasel ,  just doesn’t doesn’t quite seem right. But it was just so funny, the timing of that happening, and we very rarely get ice cream trucks that pass by here. So at first we didn’t quite even know what it was. Like, “ What is that noise? And we just started laughing at the table. It was good. I know that there have probably been times in your life. Has there been a time where you.

Look at something and maybe you said, “ No, I’m not going to do that.”  Or, you know, “ I don’t really think that’s what I should be doing.”  And then next thing you know, God like,  somehow leads you in that direction in some kind of roundabout way. And you ended up doing that thing that you didn’t think you were going to be doing?

Sporty: Uh, there’s a novel, right? One of, even first, which is talking about prayer, I would like to connect that to humor. One of the things like, for instance, I was a master of listening at an event , that was a fundraiser and they asked me to do the invocation. That was on the board and this way back, and I was known for my zaniness.

So I get up to the mic and I say, “ God, It’s me again, Sporty and my board members held their breakfast like, “ What is he doing?” And I said, “ And I’m glad to say I’m in a room full of other people who, you know, by first name. And see? So there is humor that does not require this crack up laughter. God, again, God has a sense of humor. So you, you don’t always have,  I don’t believe you always have to have this big reverent prayer to God, as much as you have to talk to God. And let him know that, you know how you feel because He knows.

Carrie: Sure. Absolutely.

Sporty: Pop goes the weasel. Okay. We’ll pass the potatoes and share the gravy. Make sure you pray first. 

Carrie: That was pretty good. 

Sporty: There it is. As these things happen in our lives, you’ve got to see the funny. You don’t always have to be funny to see the funny,

Carrie: Yeah. 

Sporty: So, even as you’re talking about the one thing, I mean, God, like I said, there’s a million things that I said I wouldn’t do. In fact, one of them, I’m doing one of them right now.

And that is, I live in Charlotte. I’m a native New York. I worked in corporate America, 18 years. I worked at the Wall Street Journal. I started as a messenger and when I retired, I was an advertising sales manager. But the reason I say that is because while I was there, I said to myself, “ I’ll never leave the Wall Street Journal.”

Carrie: Yeah. I am gonna retire here. 

Sporty: Yeah. And, “I’ll never leave New York. “ Well, they transferred me from New York to Maryland. When they promoted me to a sales rep, then they transferred me  from Maryland to Chicago when they promoted me as a sales manager. And then when I retired and decided to be an entrepreneur, I moved myself to Charlotte.

But somebody, even when I first relocated from New York to Maryland, my boss was so surprised that I was even interested in the position when it was open, when I went in to him and  he was like, “  Really? You would leave New York?”

Carrie: That’s funny. 

Sporty: So that may not be a huge example, but in all of that, what is also where at that time, when I started to journal, I didn’t have a great sense of spirituality to myself. I was just living the way I once lived.  I wasn’t reckless on anything, you know, but I didn’t really connect. And I think this is sometimes a challenge for people. I didn’t really connect to my spirituality ‘til about 38 years old. And where I, like we talked about earlier in retrospect, when, when I was in Maryland, North Carolina was my sales territory and I stood on a corner in Charlotte and I said, “ I like it here. I think I’ll move here one day.”  25 years later, is actually when I moved here, but I had that conversation with myself in 1985 and then it was, so I must’ve been probably  20, 28. And then, because it was when I was 38, that I was able to look back and see that that was my first conscious conversation with God.

And even when I moved to Charlotte in 2010, people said, “ Goodness, you took 25 years? “  I said , “ No, I use 25.” And again, just change…

Carrie: Changing the words. Yeah. 

Sporty: Now you look at it. 

Carrie: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s awesome. I know I was just batting around some different ideas with one of the counselors in our office one day. And we were talking about, I said, “ You know, I want to do a little bit more than therapy.”  I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but I think I just needed a challenge. I needed something like kind of to keep me more fresh and new. I said, “ Maybe I’ll write a workbook, you know, for people with anxiety or maybe I’ll work on some self-help type stuff, as well. “ Why don’t you start a podcast? And I was like, “ A podcast, like what?” And I was like, “ No.”  I was like, “ I just, I don’t know what I would talk about if I started a podcast.”  And now we’re over 50 episodes in. So I guess I didn’t run out of things to talk about. But I look back on that and I think that’s God’s sense of humor. Like God knew that I was going to end up taking this path and falling along here. And I’ve enjoyed it so much.I enjoy meeting people and talking with them and having all kinds of great conversations. And I learned a lot and other people learned a lot too. So it enriches me and enriches other people.

Sporty: Do it so smoothly. I mean, I love how things reconnect. It takes us right back to what we talked about, where you have to accept again.Rather than look at it as you know. Oh no, I’m not going to write a podcast. Excuse me, Carrie.  I’d like you to write a podcast.

Carrie: And sometimes people see things in you. Like we need those other people outside of ourselves to speak the positive things into our life or the gifts that they see that God has given us.

We’ve talked about this on the show before, but it’s like, it’s important to like, for us to be in community with people who are able to kind of call some of that out sometimes and say, “ Hey, you know, I see this in you. Have you ever thought about that? “  I mean,  that in itself is a blessing for sure. 

Sporty: Yeah. And you know, it takes me back to what we were saying about anxiety, people taking themselves too seriously. How I help people deal with stress. One of the main things, other than telling them, you know, control your vocabulary, do not compare yourself to someone else. 

Carrie: That’s huge.  Very huge. Nothing will rob you of your joy and peace and all of that more than comparing yourself to other people. I really believe that.  Everyone is on their own journey and their own path. And unfortunately, I think someone said this and I don’t remember who it was, but it’s like, “ We used to only compare ourselves to the people that we knew, the people that were around us and in our inner circle.” And now we can compare ourselves to anybody in the world. We just get online, get on social media. And it’s rough, it’s hard.

Sporty: In fact, even with my New York roots, one of the ways that I keep myself grounded, crazy things go on and I will say, “ You know what? This has been going on all along. We didn’t know it.”

Technology has, this is a part of, this is what technology did.  Put new stress and anxiety into our life because now we have more information that we didn’t have before. So that whole thing of a simple life that’s gone 

Carrie: You’re Amish.

Sporty: Yeah. There’s a joke that you cannot or can make . Is it a striking joke?  It’s not. It’s one of those, they are proud of what they do. And I say, Therefore. Yeah, that’s right. That’s the thing. And, I didn’t know what was going on in California, so I didn’t have to care about it. And so now, like you say, you’re on all this technology and you’re modeling yourself out of somebody who you don’t even know their real, true persona, because who they’re showing you on the screen may totally be the opposite of who they are.

Carrie: Right.

Sporty: One of my favorites when I do my presentations and I’m talking about stress, cause I always say, if you don’t like the way things are changed, the way you look at them. And I open that with a slide that shows a jail cell and empty jail cell and the caption is she met him on the internet. He said “ He lived in a closed community.”

Carrie : Oh my goodness. That’s a closed community. Maybe not what you thought. Tell us how people can find you and get in touch with you. 

Sporty: It has all of my connections to all of the social media.  I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, “ Fussbook” . That’s what I call a Facebook because everybody’s just complaining. 

Carrie: My dad has come to call it,  “ Face lift” ,  and he’s not on there, but that’s what he likes to call it is facelift. I don’t know why. 

Sporty : But also, I might say, at, I do three audio broadcasts a week. So similar to you. It’s a podcast. Well, Monday I do a quick 2-minute Inspirational message.  Wednesdays,  I do one of my Wednesday messages is called GLUE Wednesday, and my glue is G L U E. God’s Love Undoes Everything where I’ll, I’ll talk about how we have to recognize that Wednesday is not hump day.

Wednesday is actually the middle of a traditional seven-day week that keeps things together. So we don’t need to honk. We don’t need to get over it. We need to find ways to keep it together. So again, just playing on words and bringing the calm. And then Friday, I call it a GIFT Friday and gift,  G I F T , to God Is For Today.

You know, because everybody says,  T G I F but I, I say, well, “ TGIT, Thank God is Today.”  And , “ Thank God Is Tonight.” Let’s make sure that we recognize that God is for today. Do you know what you took when you talked about it  earlier about how, when you’re going through something and you’re in the middle, poetry is how I started my speaking business.

And I wrote a poem called, “ How far is the middle?” Because see, we don’t really know when we’re in the middle, because we don’t know when that situation starts and or when it’s going to end, it’s going to end, right?

Carrie: Yeah. That’s huge.

Sporty:  So you’ll find those three broadcasts on it and people can subscribe to them.

It’s free. In fact, you don’t even have to subscribe. You just want to watch one and enjoy it. That’s fine. You have options. 

Carrie: So towards the end of every podcast, I like to ask our guests to share a story of hope, which is a time where you’ve received hope from God or another person. 

Sporty: That one is actually very easy for me. It’s the hope of how He has allowed me to, to handle grief. When my mother died, I was the one in the room with her to see her take her last breath. I had to turn that and I was able to turn,  flip it very easily, actually. And that’s again, that’s the gift of God.  I said, “  You know, I’m the only one in the family that could have handled this.”

Yes, I was torn apart and yes, I went through my whole crying bit and everything like that, but I had said, you know what? And my sister and I had just switched changing of the guard. Who’s turned. Was it the watcher? Uh, about an hour ago, my sister would’ve lost her mind. But I had to see that as the gift that God gave me, even though your listeners can’t see it right now, you know, I’ve got on a shirt that says faith and faith is F A I T H Feeling As If There’s Hope,  recognizing that the only thing you cannot do is give up.

And that’s what God has constantly allowed me to feed into my life and then share with other people’s lives. In fact, let me do a quick thing with you. I want you to answer me. This is a cliche. This is what I would say. Also control your vocabulary. This is a cliche and I want you to finish it. Okay. All right.

“ When one door closes…”

Carrie: Another door opens.

Sporty: Good. But now the Sporty King remix, “ When one door closes, go for the windows”

Carrie: There you go. Don’t wait for the other door to open.

Sporty: That’s right. ‘ Cause it may not be your door. And what we do is we have to recognize that, they’re using more doors than they are windows in a room.

And once you see what you have to choose from, once you make better choices in life, see that, that’s why I say the cliches. We gotta be careful of those cliches and the comparison of ourselves to someone on the other side of the world, because they’re saying things that may not apply to what’s going on in our lives.

So really be careful about that, but definitely go for the windows. You get another chance. To make one more choice because each of us does. And my closing comment is that, “ We do the bravest thing that we can do every day and that is lay our heads down and go to sleep.”  

Carrie: Yeah, that’s good. I really appreciate this conversation and I know that our listeners do too as well, so thank you for being on the show.

Sporty: Thank you so much. 

Carrie: Just a reminder, no episode next week for Christmas week, but I hope that you have an amazing Christmas holiday celebrating with family, friends, church, community. We’re going to be back the last week of December to talk about new year’s resolutions and goals. And then I have several interviews coming out in the beginning of the year that I think you’re going to enjoy.

If you would ever like to give a gift to the podcast, you can find out how to do so. In our show notes.  We have a subscription through Patreon and we also have one-time gifts that can be given through, “ Buy Me A Coffee.”  All of that money really helps to go towards editing. Our social media is assisting to support us, continuing to be able to do the show.

Thank you so much to those who have supported us.

Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling in Smyrna, Tennessee. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum and audio editing is completed by Benjamin Bynam.

Until next time. May you be comforted by God’s great love for you.