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Humor Keeps You Young and Optimistic

Parents often tell kids, “Stop laughing” and “Wipe that smile off your face!” They forget the joy of laughter in pursuit of a little peace and quiet. But humor is far too important to life to crush at any age. It should be cultivated.

Dave Barry observes, “Mostly, I just get older, without ever actually reaching maturity. That is my current plan.” Art Gliner adds his unique window to aging, “We’re only young once, but with humor, we can be immature forever.”

I echo that perspective. When I talk to teenagers, like I will this summer at the Pepperdine Youth Citizenship Seminar, I remind teens that adults just look old! Inside we are just teenagers with wrinkled skin.

Unfortunately, many have forgotten the value of humor in making us more resilient during this age of constant change and uncertainty. Far too many people walk around looking like they’re in pain. You know the ones; instead of leaving their cars “in park,” they leave their faces “in park.” Don’t let that be you! Let there be smiles, laughter and joy and let it begin with you.

It is true, however, that not all humor works; some creates laughter at the expense of others. Norman Cousins observed, “Some people can make others laugh at others, some with others. Does your humor isolate or bring together?” Keep your humor positive and life enhancing; leave sarcasm and jokes that make fun of others out of your repertoire. Even if you don’t offend everyone – chances are that you will offend someone. If in doubt, leave questionable humor out. After all, you don’t need negative humor when there is so much positive humor available every day.

Laurence Peter said it best: “Realize that a sense of humor is deeper than laughter and more satisfying than comedy and delivers more rewards than merely being entertaining. A sense of humor sees the fun in everyday experiences. It is more important to have fun than it is to be funny.” Translation: leave room for laughter every day and always be ready to invite humor into your life. Great humor is warmer than scripted jokes because it connects to our shared funny experiences both on and off the job. You aren’t laughing at anyone; you are laughing with them. Natural humor is there if you have eyes to see, enjoy and share it with others.

That’s why I included a whole chapter on humor in my newest book, The Optimism Advantage. Read it to explore all 50 simple truths that will help you transform your attitudes and actions into results on and off the job. For me, one of my goals is to be young at heart for as long as I live…and love living until my last breath.

Some cultivate the eye of the tiger. I prefer the eye of the loon. I promise that when you look for the funny side of every day, your optimism will soar. That is a simple truth worth remembering and living.

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