Humor keeps us sane and rational.

Pittsburgh writer discusses the enormous value of humor.

            Once again, I’m struck by the importance of humor, a driving force in our sanity and rationality.  Not only does humor help in our most difficult circumstances, it rescues us from making more serious the little sins against us.

            As I was going blind, I certainly felt sad and scared.  Fortunately, I had permission to express those emotions and soon I’d come to the other side and feel strong and hopeful again.  So often the movement from the negative to the positive came via a joke that had entered my mind, something as simple as “Well, enough self-pity.”

            Yesterday a friend shared an experience she had following the funeral of a relative.  This particular relative had invariably said hurtful things to my friend. She’d never given my friend any sense of approval or affirmation.  She’d just pushed all the negative buttons.  Still, the relative was a person of some accomplishment, and my friend tried often to earn her respect.

            During the eulogies from family members at the funeral, my friend noticed that everyone expressed difficulty with this person.  It seemed she’d been hard on everyone, and this led to so many funny stories and great relieving laughter.  My friend drove home from the funeral with new insight into how long the relative’s negative recording had played in her mind, but how the awareness of shared prickliness among the family from this person and the accompanying laughter brought great peace.

            In our conversation my friend and I laughed, too.  And it freed us to wonder about our own complicity in saying hurtful things.  It helped us keep the petty sins of this relative and so many who push our buttons in perspective. 

            In our culture today we need more refreshing laughter.  The polarized discourse over the last decade can encourage us all to feel self-righteous and more sinned against than sinning.  Being able to laugh at others and at ourselves can defuse so much that’s negative in our communication.  To put it in theological terms, it can roll away the stone.  So here’s to a good laugh today! 


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