Humor (May 17)


“There’s nothing like a gleam of humor to reassure you that a fellow human being is ticking inside a strange face” (Eva Hoffman).

LIGHTHEARTEDNESS AND LAUGHTER ARE PRETTY GOOD SIGNS THAT THERE IS SOME LIFE IN US. Our exteriors may be buttoned-up and businesslike, but a little humor cracks the façade and lets it be known that there’s a little impish vitality in there after all.

“Humor is the sunshine of the mind” (Edward Bulwer-Lytton). In the physical world, of course, sunshine is not the only kind of weather that we need, but isn’t it wonderful when we happen to have the benefit of it? Similarly, in the emotional world, we take a special delight in the “sunshine of the mind.” Isn’t it pleasing when humor breaks through the clouds of a “rainy” set of circumstances? Isn’t it agreeable when something funny is said, when something hilarious happens, or when something comical catches us by surprise?

It would be hard to overestimate the value of the gift we give when we show others “a gleam of humor.” For most people, life can be a bit difficult, and without a dash of funniness once in a while, it can be almost impossible. So it doesn’t matter who the folks are who have to deal with us regularly; they would enjoy, if not some laughter, at least a little pleasantness coming from our side of the relationship.

It might be a mistake, however, to suddenly decide that we’re going to start being “humorous.” If that hasn’t been our habit in the past, it might be more beneficial simply to start being more observant of the things that happen around us that are comical. Genuine humor can rarely be planned or programmed. As Erma Bombeck said, “Humor is a spontaneous, wonderful bit of an outburst that just comes. It’s unbridled, it’s unplanned, it’s full of surprises.”

Ordinary life contains all the humorous sunshine that any of us needs, if only we have eyes and ears to receive it. Indeed, professional humorists get their best material by just watching and listening as the “mad, mad, mad, mad world” goes by. And I’m guessing, if something funny didn’t happen to you today, you just weren’t paying attention.

“There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know'” (Joaquín Andújar).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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