November 29th, 2010
The pressure was too much. Susan thought she’d break. She tried to talk it out. She told the truth to a friend, “I’m furious. It’s not fair. My roommates just abandoned me and went to a movie and left the mess to me. And the landlord was going to inspect our apartment the next morning.”
But Susan didn’t get any relief until . . . . She laughed. How? She watched a brief TV show that she had pre-recorded.
Susan is onto something here. In fact, I watch something funny and I laugh everyday. One of my favorite shows is “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” This is a show in which a number of comedians improvise comedic skits.
For many of us, just some brief laughter brings genuine relief. We feel better. The world seems less oppressive. Somehow, an inner lightness arises. The facts of the situation may not change, but somehow, we have awakened our inner resources.
When I teach graduate students how to add humor to their speeches, I share these details:
1. Humor always has a target.
2. You are the safe target for your humor.
3. Humor happens with the last word in the sentence.
4. Tell a story (if expressing a joke doesn’t flow easily for you).
5. Humor involves “pain at a distance.”
Recently, I visited my mother. I remembered “tell a story.” So I started telling a story and I discovered the humor in the story. What a joy to see my mother laughing. I glanced to my right and saw that my sweetheart chuckled, too.
As a teenager, when I completed an internship, a kind co-worker gave me a gift. She included a note: “Be the rose that perfumes the hand that crushes it.” At the time, I didn’t quite connect with that phrase.
I have an optimistic approach to life. And, I can connect to part of the spirit of the co-worker’s note. Now, I say, “Learn to inspire laughter in others. Their laughter splashes onto you.” No towel needed.
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