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Reflecting on humor – what is it?

In my congratulatory message to a dear young couple celebrating their wedding anniversary, I interjected – keep your humor, for love thrives in humor.

What exactly is humor? Among many of Merriam Webster’s definitions of humor are:

“That quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous.”
“The mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous: the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny.”

From your own life experiences, how would you characterize humor?

My take on humor: It is the ability to find light where it’s dreary; to seek lightheartedness over dark oppression; to turn the dangerously serious to a calming peace; to laugh at the right time without harm to others; to laugh at oneself not from embarrassment but from sheer good nature; to bring out what’s funny without insult or ridicule; to genuinely smile when all else looks glum; to find the beautiful behind the ugly and pull out what is decent and pure.

You don’t need a bag of tricks to show humor, nor a book of jokes to study for entertaining others. Sometimes, you don’t need to point to the very obvious to elicit a laugh, but to unveil what is delightful and unobtrusive to bring pleasure. Humor can be subtle. It doesn’t have to ring loud bells like a corny joke – although that can be all right, too. A humorous comment may not earn a raucous guffaw or a cowboy slap on the lap, but a mere smile or an acknowledging nod. But surely, that comment must have added cheer to the atmosphere.

The recipient of humor is as integral as the giver. When I hinted to the couple in my wedding anniversary message that “love thrives in humor” – I meant that the initiator of the humor is happy when humor is received well. So, in a relationship where details and circumstances of each day can test patience and tolerance, and human tendencies seek to self-gratify, the gift of humor can clear up the webs that obstruct understanding. You mulch on the petty as well as resolute stuff and clear the path where love thrives and endures.

Humor comes from wit, and wit comes from wisdom. It is a gift that anyone can have, to instill in one’s disposition like an automatic mechanism that flies off its handle especially when most needed, like sunshine for the rainy days. It is the comical moments of life that add delight to the days and sparkles to the memories.

Linda P. Jacob

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