In recent years much emphasis has been placed on the “cool” look. We are encouraged to look like we’re not trying when we really are, to “hang loose,” to be unflappable whatever the circumstances. All of us, of course, have defense mechanisms-natural devices to protect our feelings-and they serve us well. Humor, for example, is one of these. Abraham Lincoln, who had been criticized for telling so many jokes during the darkest days of the Civil War, said simply, “I laugh because I must not cry.” For Lincoln, as for so many of us, humor was a release valve. It helped him keep his wits about him during a time of great crisis.
Most often, however, any prolonged restraint upon natural feelings can be dangerous. When aspiring to the “cool” look becomes an effort to show no emotion, to hold all feelings inside, it can have dangerous consequences to the human personality. Psychologists tell us that emotions have a life of their own. If…
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