A Commitment to Laughter
Earl Nightingale

  
One of the enriching blessings of growing older all the time is that it has a way of improving one’s commitment to laughter — or at least it should.  The person without a good sense of humor is a person to avoid as though he were a known carrier of the plague.

Horace Walpole once said, “I have never yet seen or heard anything serious that was not ridiculous.”  And Samuel Butler said, “The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken seriously.”  It has been said that seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.  Oscar Wilde said, “It is a curious fact that the worst work is always done with the best intentions, and that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves very seriously.”

I remember that when I was in the service, one of the toughest jobs I had was to keep from laughing at the wrong times — during an admiral’s inspection, for example.  There is nothing funnier than the seriousness of the military, especially high-ranking military.  The fancy costumes, the panoply, the shining sabers, the serious faces — it was all, to me, hilariously funny.

We can be serious about situations.  When a youngster is ill or hurt, or someone insults your spouse, you can get very serious about the situation in a hurry.  But that’s not taking ourselves seriously. That’s different.

The thing that bothered me about Hemingway, as much as I admired his work, was that I thought he tended to take himself too seriously.  He didn’t seem to be able to laugh at himself.  And I think he suffered from this flaw in his character.

I have found it a good rule of thumb to be slightly suspicious of anyone who takes himself too seriously.  There’s usually something fishy there someplace. I think this is why we love children so much:  Life is a game to them.  They will do their best at whatever work is given them, but they never seem to lose their ebullient sense of humor; there is always a sparkle of humor in their eyes.  When a child lacks this, he or she is usually in need of help.

Dictators are famous for their lack of humor.  The mark of a cruel person is that he doesn’t seem to be able to see anything funny in the world.  And, a sense of humor was what was so great about Mark Twain.  No matter how serious the subject, he could find the humor in it and bring it out.  All the great comedians have this ability to see what’s funny in the so-called serious situation.  They can poke fun at themselves.  There are those who believe that a sense of humor is the only thing that has kept the human race from totally extinguishing itself.

People who are emotionally healthy, with a sense of proportion, are cheerful people.  They tend to look upon the bright side of things and see a lot of humor in their daily lives.  They’re not Pollyannas — they know what’s going on and that a lot of it’s not at all funny — but they don’t permit the dark side of things to dominate their lives.  To my mind, when a person lacks a sense of humor, there’s something pretty seriously wrong with him.

Samuel Butler said, “A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities as well as those of other people will keep a man from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing.”

It took a sense of humor to write that, and only people with blank spaces where their senses of humor should be will find it offensive.  There’s something so healthy about laughter, especially when it’s directed at ourselves.

There are times for all of us when all the laughter seems to be gone, but we should not permit these periods to last too long.  When we’ve lost our sense of humor, there isn’t very much left.  We become ridiculous.  We must then go to war against the whole world, and that’s a war we cannot win.

* * * *

Learn more about Earl at earlnightingale.com.
  

more on laughter

  


 
welcome page - contents - gallery - obstacles - quotations
 the people behind the words - our current e-zine
 articles and excerpts - Daily Meditations, Year Two - Year Three
     

Sign up for your free daily spiritual or general quotation

   

   

Laughter can relieve tension, soothe the pain of disappointment,
and strengthen the spirit for the formidable tasks that always lie ahead.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

  

All contents © Living Life Fully, all rights reserved.

  

HOME - contents - Daily Meditations - abundance - acceptance - achievement - action - adversity - advertising - aging - ambition
anger - anticipation - anxiety - apathy - appreciation - arrogance - art - attitude - authenticity - awakening - awareness - awe
balance - beauty - being yourself - beliefs - body - brooding - busyness - caring - celebration - challenges -
change - character
charity - children - choices - Christianity - coincidence - commitment - common sense - community - comparison - compassion
competition - complaining - compliments - compromise - confidence - conformity - conscience - contentment - control - cooperation
courage - covetousness - creativity - crisis - criticism - cruelty -  death - decisions - desire - determination - disappointment
discipline - discouragement - diversity - doubt - dreams - earth - education - ego - emotions - encouragement - enlightenment
enthusiasm - envy - eternity - ethics - example - exercise - experience - failure - faith - fame - family - fate - fathers - fault-finding
fear - feelings - finances - flowers - forgiveness - freedom - friendship - frustration - fun - the future - garden of life - gardening
generosity - gentleness - giving - goals - God - goodness - grace - gratitude - greatness - greed - grief - growing up - guilt - habit
happiness - hatred - healing - health - heart - helpfulness - home - honesty - hope - hospitality - humility - hurry - ideals - identity
idleness  - idolatry - ignorance - illusion - imagination - impatience - individuality - the inner child - inspiration - integrity - intimacy
introspection - intuition - jealousy - journey of life - joy - judgment - karma - kindness - knowledge - language - laughter - laziness
leadership - learning - letting go - life - listening - loneliness - love - lying - magic - marriage - materialism - meanness - meditation
mindfulness - miracles - mistakes - mistrust - moderation - money - mothers - motivation - music - mystery - nature - negative attitude
now - oneness - open-mindedness - opportunity - optimism - pain - parenting - passion - the past - patience - peace - perfectionism
perseverance - perspective - pessimism - play - poetry - positive thoughts - possessions - potential - poverty - power - praise
prayer
- prejudice - pride - principle - problems - progress - prosperity - purpose - reading -recreation - reflection - relationships
religion - reputation - resentment - respect - responsibility - rest - revenge - risk - role models - running - ruts - sadness - safety
seasons of life - self - self-love - self-pity - self-reliance - self-respect selfishness - serving others - shame - silence - simplicity
slowing down - smiles -solitude - sorrow - spirit - stories - strength - stress - stupidity - success - suffering - talent
the tapestry of life - teachers - thoughts - time - today - tolerance - traditions - trees - trust - truth - unfulfilled dreams - values
vanity - virtue - vulnerability - walking - war - wealth - weight issues - wisdom - women - wonder - work - worry - worship
youth - spring - summer - fall - winter - Christmas - Thanksgiving - New Year - America - Zen sayings - articles & excerpts
Native American wisdom - The Law of Attraction - obstacles to living life fully - e-zine archives - quotations contents
our most recent e-zine - Great Thinkers - the people behind the words

  

Laughter has something in it common with the ancient words of faith and
inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes people forget
themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves.

G.K. Chesterton

  
    

We have some inspiring and motivational books that may interest you.  Our main way of supporting this site is through the sale of books, either physical copies or digital copies for your Amazon Kindle (including the online reader).  All of the money that we earn through them comes back to the site in one way or another.  Just click on the picture to the left to visit our page of books, both fiction and non-fiction!