Reading time: 3 minutes Jul 4th 2016

What the Irish can Teach the World

In France, during the European Championship, the antics of the Irish fans have become one of the highlights of the tournament. While we have failed to perform as well as we’d like on the field, off the field our supporters have shown up in their thousands. There is a really valuable lesson to be learned by this.

Four years ago, I went to Poland and witnessed us lose the last group game against Italy. That day, we were comprehensively beaten and found ourselves with the worst results of the competition. Before and after the game however, the atmosphere was incredible. Irish fans packed the streets and in the actual stadium at least 80% of the fans were in green and white. Afterwards, the singing continued as the few Italians there mixed happily with us.

This year, I again went to France for the final group game. This time we emerged victorious in what I can only describe as one of the greatest sporting events I have ever attended. Before the match and during the match, the sight of thousands of green and white supporters singing their hearts out was a sight to behold. Then, we scored and chaotic scenes ensued as we all jumped up and down hugging each other and sang our hearts out for the final few minutes and for long after the final whistle had sounded.

There was camaraderie, with ourselves and with the Italians. They were happy for us and we saw the best side of the human condition in that stadium. The heart and determination and guts of the 11 Irish players. The love, pride and support of the thousands of supporters around the ground.

Indeed, in this tournament, before I arrived, Irish fans had serenaded a beautiful French girl, sung songs to the Swedish before the first game such as ‘Go home to your sexy wives’, changed the tyre of a car for someone who had a flat tyre, cleaned up after themselves after a drinking session on a street and sang songs to the French police who actually started singing back to them. Overall, it has been one hilarious event after another.

So, what is to learn by all these shenanigans as we call them? Very simply, it is the filter we, Irish, put on things. We have our downsides in personality of course but one of the things I love most about my country is this continuous desire to have the ‘craic’ as we call it. We are always searching for ways to have a laugh and we view everything as an opportunity to have fun and to laugh.

This is something, I believe, we badly need in the world today. Looking at our problems through a ‘craic’ filter or a ‘laughter’ filter means asking ourselves how can we have more fun? How can we make things more enjoyable? How can we see the humour or comedy in any situation? Richard Bandler talks about one of the diseases of planet Earth being that of ‘seriousness’. Often it is in taking our problems seriously that we find ourselves making them worse. When you look at things and ask for the humour, often you will find it. When you do, suddenly what seemed overwhelming really isn’t.

Sport and art can bring out the best and the worst in people. The key is to focus on bringing out the best in you, the situation and in others more of the time. So, the idea here, in a nutshell is, how can you start to have more fun in life. While some fans look for fights, we look for fun. It is a much better life choice and it makes you far nicer to be around.

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