Humor and Attitudes

The key element of humor skills is the ability to connect the dots.  It’s the ability to see relationships which the average person doesn’t immediately see.  At the core of nearly every joke is the connection of how things are related or how they are not related. 

Look at the classic Henny Youngman line, “Take my wife…please!”  Its trigger is the connection of the two different meanings of the word take, which provides the unexpected twist.  When you study Gary Larson cartoons you see a frequent connection of animals and human characteristics.  “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  That line connects the obvious (to get to the other side) with the more complicated answer for which we usually begin searching when first challenged with the riddle.

Someone with a great sense of humor is able to see things in a different light because of the connections they make.  Remember that a sense of humor is not telling jokes.  A sense of humor is a way of looking at life.  It’s all about perspective.

A sense of humor helps you to see relationships in a way that allows you to do an attitude shift.  A person may believe that his or her positive attitude is important for a happy and balanced life.  A positive attitude could be labeled a great attitude.  A great attitude might shift into the word gratitude (GR-ATITUDE).  For ages, success gurus have told us that gratitude is one of the keys to a fulfilling life.  It shifts the thinking to the things we want most in life.  Decades ago, Earl Nightingale (The Strangest Secret) told us that “you become what you think about.”  That’s the core message of current popular motivational DVD, The Secret, referred to as the Law of Positive Attraction.  We’ve heard that concept for decades from Dennis Waitley, Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy and others.  The idea is not really new, it’s just another reminder of an important principle of life.  Appreciate what you have and it will draw more of the same to you.  Have a great attitude…gratitude.

A fringe benefit of exercising your sense of humor (writing jokes, cartoon captions, observational humor lines) is that you develop the ability to twist your thinking.  Anytime you’re having a difficult time with something or someone, you always need to remember “there’s another way of looking at this problem.”  The humor habit helps you to avoid tunnel vision.  It helps you break out of the customary ways of thinking.

I attended a family funeral about ten months ago for my father’s youngest sister, Florence.  It was a wonderful service and the reunion of family members was an occasion filled with wonderful memories and lots of laughing.  Florence had a great sense of humor.  At family gatherings, like a funeral, you often hear the expression “we need to get together more often, not just at funerals and weddings!”  And it occurred to me, I’m really not much concerned with who comes to MY funeral.  I’d much prefer that people would come see me while I’m alive!  When I die…go bowling.  That thought made me smile.  It gave me a different perspective.  It helped me to realize that sometimes I’m not as good about taking the time to go see other people as I should be.  Go see the people you care about while you can.  Enjoy the company of those you love while they’re still around.  Stress less.  Play more with the people that matter.  Humor helps shape outlook.  It helps us to focus on the things most important to us.  The ability to make connections can help us to shape a great attitude.  It can help us to live the present moment with gratitude.