In hopes of erasing some of the rhetoric and name calling going on over the past few months, I decided to devote this post to humor. The messes we create on a daily basis are often far from humorous, but when they involve other people – yes, even the toxic ones I talked about yesterday – we’re opening a dialog which usually doesn’t have a happy ending.
While searching for a quote on humor and the benefits of laughter, I came across the one pictured. I love the words, but admittedly I had no idea who William James was. I mean he looks like a nice guy. He even has laugh lines to prove my point. His smile is hidden by well groomed facial hair, but I do see a hint of one in there somewhere. People from this time period rarely smiled for photographs anyway. I wonder why that is. Were they really such an unhappy bunch – were they wearing shoes that were too tight or underwear that didn’t fit?
So I proceeded to Wikipedia to find out more about him. William James was born in 1842 at the Astor House in New York. Obviously his family was wealthy. They also were well read and intellectual. William eventually would be labeled “The Father of American Psychology,” because of his studies and contributions in that area. This was a time when the science of psychology was in its early stages. His father was a theologian, independently wealthy and well connected with the intellectual elites of the day.
His early adult years were riddled with various kinds of disease. He had an artistic side, but decided to pursue a career in science. He was tone deaf, suffered from bouts of depression and even contemplated suicide. On one hand he was blessed with great wealth, position, education, and acceptance by his peers yet he wasn’t always happy.
Now that you have a brief description of the man that gave us that quote, I still see a ray of hope. William obviously knew the importance of a good belly laugh. The fact that he considered a sense of humor as common sense on steroids proves that. From a scientific perspective laughter has always been good medicine. When we laugh we release endorphins into our system which make us feel good. It’s kind of a temporary fix to chuckle, chortle, giggle or snort out a good belly laugh.
I have been known to pull up to a drive through wearing a nose and glasses, just to get a rise out of the cashier. My kids grew up in a house full of silliness. One of the first things they learned to do was laugh. There is no point in taking life so seriously. If we do, we’re setting ourselves up for a great fall and an existence of hopelessness. I believe that God has a sense of humor. He must have, because he made me.
When the world is spinning out of control, put on a silly wig and dress up in an outrageous outfit when you go to work today. Don’t limit yourself. You’ll be amazed how much fun you can have if you turn your frown upside down. Not to mention the laughs you’ll get from the paramedics who drive you off to the funny farm.