Giving Up and Happiness with Coonoor Behal

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Comedy brings us joy — who doesn’t love to laugh? But comedy can mean so much more than a quick chuckle. It can lead to us giving up and letting go of things that hurt us. The things we used to take so seriously can one day be a source of laughter. When you can laugh, you’ve found freedom.

In this episode, Coonoor Behal joins us to share her story about comedy and giving up. She narrates how learning improv helped her face life with a smile. She shows us how quitting isn't always bad. Giving up on something might seem like it'll be your biggest regret, but instead, it might be what you need to open up a whole new world.

If you feel like life is taking a toll on you and no longer know how to face life’s challenges, this episode is perfect for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn why giving up is all about mindset.

  2. Find out how giving up can change your worldview.

  3. Discover how comedy is intertwined with giving up.


Episode Highlights

Comedy and Coonoor

  • Coonoor Behal is from India, and she grew up in Ohio. Her favourite stand-up comedian is Dave Chapelle.

  • Coonoor considers herself to be a comedy nerd. She loved comedy even when she was young and interned at Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

  • Her passion for comedy is, to her, a very serious hobby. However, she dislikes watching herself perform.

Comedy as a Hobby and Career

  • Comedy became part of Coonoor’s professional life when it became a part of her business, Mindhatch. They bring improvisational skills and mindsets into the workplace.

  • She began her career in innovation at her old company before taking her very first improv class.

  • Innovation, human-centred design, and improv are similar in terms of mindset.

  • Improv taught her to become an excellent colleague.

  • Comedy made Coonoor good at the creative side of the business and the business side of creativity.

Coonoor’s Mindset

  • Coonoor's mindset is all about positivity. She's always in "discovery mode."

  • Quitting and giving up is not a comedy in the same sense as in the late-night TV shows. Giving up is not a failure.

  • Coonoor’s book aims to remove the stigma and shame of quitting.

  • Some people regret not quitting soon enough. That conversation requires access to vulnerability and humility.

  • Humility will allow you to access this vulnerability. There is a comedy in humility.

The Letting Go Process as Comedy

  • Over time, things you once took seriously can become things you can laugh at.

  • Coonoor admits that she is a big fan of dark humour and gallows humour. Thus, once she got divorced, she immediately made fun of it and herself.

  • Giving up can take time. It also takes humility to make fun of your own mistakes.

  • This way of thinking is a mindset that Coonoor had in her before she knew it.

Learning to Quit

  • Coonoor used to be a perfectionist and didn't have enough self-knowledge to understand when to quit or challenge herself.

  • She quit an improv class when she was 19 due to the fear of being bad at something. However, she regretted it immediately afterwards.

  • Your first “big quit” can shift your mindset and empower you.

  • Learning to quit is different for everyone. For some people, there’s a tipping point. For others, it might be a process.

The Qualitative Model

  • Coonoor’s book is qualitative. It's a mixture of sharing other people's stories, her reflections on them, and how they found the courage to quit.

  • She’s currently making a toolkit around quitting. It’s designed to help you reflect on yourself.

  • Coonoor admits that she is not a framework person. Every person is unique, and so are their problems. Everything has to be personalized.

The Connection between Performing and Life

  • So much around the connection between performance and life is human connection.

  • Stand-up comedy is about building a connection with the audience. Coonoor calls this “human dynamism.”

  • Improv performances require extreme collaboration with the audience. Thus, it needs empathy and human connection.

  • Through improv comedy, she sees different views and justifies them despite not necessarily holding such thoughts. For Coonoor, the connection emanates from how she stands up as a person.

  • Improv requires you to be a good listener. Sometimes, in real life, Coonoor can’t be that.

The Energy in Performance and Authenticity

  • Most people believe that performers take refuge in not being themselves while performing.

  • In improv comedy, all you have to bring is yourself. You have no script — you only have yourself.

  • Coonoor gets energy from other people. They bring Coonoor into the focus and energy that she needs in life.

  • Coonoor doesn’t like the concept of inertia in her life.

5 Powerful Quotes

“And so I think the mindset training that improv gives you, all of it is beneficial to being a good colleague, to being innovative and to being creative.” “I interviewed 30 some people about their own quitting stories. Once people had that one big quit, whether it was quitting a marriage, a job, an identity, or a friendship or whatever it might be, once they ripped off that first band-aid, it was like a whole new world opened up to them.” “I think at heart, the book is definitely about rethinking, quitting and removing the stigma and the shame from it.” “You have a unique problem and challenge, and therefore, we are going to develop a unique solution. . . I’ve never been one to over-generalize things into frameworks or be super directive because things are so unique and so different.” “With the passage of time, you know, the things that you once took so seriously, you can laugh at.”

About Coonoor

Coonoor Behal has delivered Design Thinking consulting and training projects and facilitated workshops for various clients, including innovation companies, international law firms, restaurants, multinational banks, consulting firms, and international monetary institutions. She is a graduate of Adaptive Path's User Experience (UX) Intensive and has studied product design with the Wharton School of Business. With years of experience as an improv comedian and teacher, Coonoor brings levity, adaptability, and composure to every occasion and uses improv techniques to enhance collaboration and creativity. Her Innovation Facilitation sessions are experiential and engaging, using creative stimulus to help clients get more of the best ideas faster. She is certified in “Creative Facilitation and Design” by Retreats That Work. Before her creative business career, Coonoor worked in nonprofit international development. She holds a BA from New York University (summa cum laude) and an MA from The University of Chicago.

If you wish to connect with Coonoor, you can visit her LinkedIn. Get to know more about Mindhatch through their website, LinkedIn, and Facebook page.

Enjoy this Podcast?

Giving up is all about mindset. Life does not stop for anybody; time is the one resource you can't get back. What better way to enjoy life than to spread positivity through humour? If you enjoyed today's episode of the 21st Century Entrepreneurship Podcast, then hit subscribe and share it!

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To fuelling success in your life,


#givingup #mindset #perception #personaldevelopment #comedy #quitting #energymanagement

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