Spiritual Side of Humor
The use of the two primary tools of witnessing and sharing, discussed in a previous article, is closely tied to one of our most precious commodities: a sense of humor. What is the quality we call a sense of humor and why is it so highly valued? Understanding the answer to that question will raise the level of desirability on those two fundamental tools and will hopefully make us want to cultivate them more completely.
Remember that witnessing is observation or awareness plus equanimity or acceptance. Sharing is openness or willingness to connect plus honesty. In observing what we call a sense of humor, we see that humor requires perspective. To be able to laugh at a condition or a situation, one must have sufficient distance from it. If we’re too strongly identified to a thing, our emotional reaction to it will lack detachment, and we won’t be able to laugh at it. It’s only when we step away from identification with a thing and communicate either its inner workings or our own workings that humor arises. In other words, it’s only when we witness something, somebody, or ourselves, and share our observations that we are exhibiting a sense of humor. We see what is, we maintain adequate distance so as not to judge it, and we report our findings. Think of the episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry spends the entire show trying to remember his new girlfriend’s name. It’s stressful to him because he’s in the situation, but to us it’s hysterical. The quicker we can accomplish an attitude of detachment, the quicker we can find humor in the circumstances of our lives. You’ve heard people say, “Someday we’ll look back at this and laugh.”
I say, “Why wait?”
Total honesty + total acceptance = Humor
Certainly, much humor seems to be laced with judgment, but if we look more deeply, we’ll find that there’s compassion and love behind the judgment. Perhaps the individual evoking the laugh is using judgment, but we’re laughing because of our delight with that person’s way of sharing. In other words, we’re creating humor together. They’re supplying the honesty and we’re supplying the acceptance. Both of these need to be present for humor to exist, and each of these is a component of the tools we use for making connections with others. Humor embraces rather than rejects life’s ironies, allowing us to celebrate our flawed humanity.
Humor is one of the highest forms of communication, more capable than any other form of communication of eliciting states of delight and ecstasy, putting both the giver and receiver in touch with the divine within. Take the time to find the humor in your everyday life. You’ll be elevating your consciousness and that of others.