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September 24, 2016

4 Paths to a Lighter, Funnier, More Joyful Outlook.

Natalie_Portman_laughing

We have all heard of a sing along. Well, life is a laugh along, punctuated with occasional tears.

So sharpen up your sense of humor, because you will need it. In fact, it makes all the difference.

If you don’t laugh much you can practice laughing: a fake laugh is better than no laugh at all and often it will evolve into a real laugh—the cornerstone of good health, grand fun and joy.

Along every path, around every bend, is humor.

My friend Moe and I were driving down the road in Asheville the other day. We rounded a corner and there, limping down the street, was a man with one leg. Before I could even think, out of my mouth came the words, “Uh oh.”

Path One: Return to Innocence

At that moment I was a small innocent kid, seeing one leg instead of two. The loss of leg wasn’t funny, but the innocent response to the loss was. We continued laughing for a while, aware that “uh-oh” is the perfect response to almost everything that happens to us.

Uh-oh, the sun went down. Uh-oh, my lover cheated on me. Uh-oh, I’ve got a cold or cancer or spilled my milk or forgot where I parked my car or put car keys.

Uh-oh, we all die someday. Uh-oh, we were born.

Uh-oh opens the door to innocence: one way to a better sense of humor.

I was sitting with Lucille. She was 89 years old, still the hardest working woman I ever knew. Her thin frame was perched on a giant log next to her garage. She was talking of the old days, of how her young husband accidentally shot himself in the leg (uh-oh) and how they rode for hours in a horse drawn carriage to the hospital and how that hospital said he would surely die. Three days later he was much better and they resumed their newly married life.

As she talked, the big log slowly rolled toward me and she tipped, pinned lightly between the log and the garage, folded just so. As this happened, she started to shake from deep inside until she was young, agile—a school girl again with a big smile and giggling away.

Path Two: Everything’s Funny in Time

Donald running for president? That’s funny. The Pope dressing as he does and trying to be serious in that garb—that’s funny. Us launching into a new relationship as though it’s going to work—with all the evidence to the contrary—that’s funny. Our kids moving back home at 20 or 30, or 40, or 50, or 60 or 70—that’s funny.

People watching other people make love on a screen—that’s funny. Especially when their perfectly good hot spouse is in the next room doing the same. Anybody imagining that Facebook friends are really friends—that too is sad and funny.

Look a little deeper, cock your head to the side and look at even the most serious thing on a longer timeline and you will quickly discover that what seems so damned serious in this moment—like stubbing your big toe for the third time today, being cut off in traffic, getting fired, or romantic failures—are funnier than they seem.

Path Three: Emotions are Funny

Anger is an early, often unappreciated stage of humor. To reveal its funny side, anger just needs a little attention. Notice your knee jerk anger response: stay tuned, and it too will turn into joy. Often anger results when we try and influence things, or people that we simply have no business trying to manipulate: like the other driver, our spouse, kids, boss or political candidate. Ride anger to the end of the line, and you will find a punch line.

Sadness is just too long without funny. We get sad when we imagine that things aren’t funny, we are supposed to be different than we are, they were supposed to stay and love us even though we don’t love ourselves. Sadness is a later stage of funny—but it too is funny.

Path Four: God is Funny

Dogs don’t laugh, cows don’t, trees don’t, but we can. And when we do the day is a little brighter, our senses a little clearer, we need less coffee, attention or other people’s love, because we are already dipped in delight, and rolled in mirth.

Wanting sex and not having it: funny.

Diminishing life to a work-fest: funny.

Thinking that a million or billion dollars will make us happy: funny.

Imagining God without a sense of humor: that’s really funny. After all she put us here, naked and without purpose—we have to make up our own purpose. We’re all alone and we have to find somebody we can get along with: all funny.

Yes, there is some drama on this planet, some pathos, enough idiocy to go around, but basically this is a funny place. So get out your funny bone today, dust it off, it’s never too early or too late to laugh. Humor is about timing and it is always time for rolling on the floor, wiggling up to the edge of hilarity.

All Paths lead to Funny.

If something isn’t funny yet, give it a moment or two—it will soon reveal itself as funny.

With hearts the size of the universe and minds that just won’t stop creating problems and solving them, we are the original comedians—endlessly funny. Certainly, some of us are the straight guy, the foil, the dupe—but that’s especially dry and funny too.

If you have lost your sense of humor you can find it again. Humor often begins with innocence, openness or just putting your eyes up. Look at the sky or the tops of trees, instead of down, down, down.

As I suggested earlier, if you don’t laugh much, practice laughing; you will get it. Laughter is the universal language, the cure for just about everything and always there when we are having the most fun we can have. We came here to have fun—lets do just that.

Laugh now, laugh later, laugh tomorrow and watch as your health, your happiness, your friends, your lovers and your pets perk up. Dogs may not laugh, but they appreciate it when you do.

The side effects of a laughing path are positive, wonderful and worthwhile. So, go for it.

 

 

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Author: Jerry Stocking

Image: Wikipedia

Editor: Travis May

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