LAUGHING MATTERS

Humor and the laughter that it evokes is one of the fundamental ingredients for success in live and business.  There is the old adage that, “He who laughs, lasts.” The Humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw said, “There are few good judges of humor, and they don’t agree.” The Webster definition of humor is: “That which is designed to arouse laughter; wit, comedy; laughing matters.” One preacher proclaimed that, “Laughter is God’s gift to mankind, and mankind is proof that God has a sense of humor.” According to Dana Farnsworth, A funny name in my opinion, “A sense of humor is not so much the ability to appreciate humorous stories as it is the capacity to recognize the absurdity of the positions one gets into from time to time together with skill in retreating from them with dignity.” That statement appeals to me in a big way. After all, we may as well laugh at life because none of us is going to get out of life alive.

A sense of humor is the lubricant of the machinery of life.  Grenville Kleiser tells us that, “Good humor is a tonic for the mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens the burdens of humanity. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” It can be said that the person who cannot tolerate and enjoy a little nonsense once in awhile does not have much sense. The cultivation of a good sense of humor and the ability to see life and living in all of its absurdity is something that people everywhere should work hard at doing. Laughter is contagious. It is certainly more contagious than tears and much better for the health and well being of the participant. I believe that people who can agree upon what is funny can usually agree upon most other things as well.

Many distinguished people agree that a good sense of humor is beneficial to living, loving, and life on this crazy, mixed up planet. Will Rogers said, “If there is no laughter in heaven, I don’t think I want to go there.”  Joseph Addison said, “Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter.” According to Henry Ward Beecher, “Men will let you abuse them if you will only make them laugh.” That is certainly true when you think about some of the aggressive Comedians we see and hear on Television these days. But if it is fun, amusing, and if there is no malice in your heart or your humor, people seem to eat it up.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about the power of humor in his piece called “The Comic.” Emerson said, “Wit makes its own welcome, and levels all distinctions. No dignity, no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit.” This is particular true in the political arena when we consider men of great wit, who used it quickly and often to diffuse tense situations. Winston Churchill had a magnificent wit which he used with ferocity and candor. So did Ronald Regan. Regan had so much with there is even a book about the many humorous things he said using humor to make an important point without being mean or cruel. Perhaps, one of the greatest Statesman-Humorist’s in the United States was Benjamin Franklin. His well placed words of humor can be found in hundreds of publicans. He had the ability to use humor to make a poignant point as well as make tongue-in-cheek statements that were memorable because of their humorous content. In the famous, “Poor Richard’s Almanac”, Franklin said, “You can not joke an enemy into a friend, but you can make a friend into an enemy.” That speaks to the power of humor.

History is filled with stories of how humor was used to belittle and demean some of the cruelest dictators on earth. During World War II, Adolph Hitler was ridiculed and put down with humorous remarks. Although, calling him a “paper hanging SOB” was funny, the humor served to show people that he was not a big, rough and tough heroic person who was larger than life, but just a poor, weak, egomaniac who thought people should live like he wanted them to live. Joseph Stalin’s brutality was minimized, albeit on the sly and behind closed doors, by Russians, in an effort to cut him down to size. It was the same with the chubby porker Mussolini,  Idi Amin and later with Saddam Hussein. These were cruel and vicious men who brutalized the populace under their control. When the people and the world began to minimize their “supposed greatness” their reputations began to suffer, people more bold, and eventually, one by one, they were deposed. When we can use humor as a powerful tool to ridicule things and people that are “wrong” or “Ugly” in the world, we can eventually see that there is a method to the madness. All humor contains a little bit of truth.  Remember the words of Emerson, “No dignity, no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit.”

Elsa Maxwell said, “Go ahead and laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.”  Fulke Greville ( another funny name) said, “Man is the only creature endowed with the gift of laughter; he is also the only one that deserves to be laughed at.” I agree. On a daily basis life is filled with opportunities to laugh. There are so many absurd things that we can find humor in it is ashamed to let them go unappreciated. That is one of my missions in life. I endeavor to show others how to laugh at themselves, and at the absurdities we all endure on a daily basis. Don’t take things so seriously, especially yourselves. Life is too serious to be taken seriously. As Bob Hope would have said, “ain’t that something?”

Humor is one of the most best selling commodity’s in the market place. I know of many comedians and humorist’s who make more money that a lot of Corporate Presidents and premier politicians. People love sitcoms that are based on comedy. Advertisers like to put their money where the laughter is. People buy thousands of joke books every year seeking some levity. Every day American’s laugh hundreds of times. Good for them. Laughter is contagious. We like to see and hear about funny things happening to others, to government officials, to celebrities, and we crave to hear about the funny and humorous differences among us. Humor is the great equalizer. It is the shortest distance between people, and again, if we can agree on what is funny, we can usually agree on other things too. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Well placed and well timed humor can mean the difference between success and failure in interpersonal relationships. Laughing truly does matter. As the song goes, “When your laughing, the whole world laughs with you.”

So remember, by all means and maybe my every means, “He who laughs, lasts.”

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