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Random Forays: Finding humour amid cynicism

Being creatively humorous improves relationships and avoids conflicts within the family.

punjab Updated: Jun 10, 2018 11:29 IST
Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Random Forays,role models,Spontaneous laughter
Spontaneous laughter can also break an argument and avoid serious tensions at times.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Will Rogers had a point when he enunciated the words: “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else!”

However, in this verily self-centred era, finding people around us to be worthy of note is hard enough, let alone finding them funny. We tend to be so engrossed in our own little worlds that we seldom look around at passersby on a street, or fellow bystanders in a queue. Yes we do tend to notice really good looking people and we wish we could exchange places either with them or with their partners, depending on their gender!

But we never learn to laugh at life itself. There are many goings-on at a station or airport or market place that can elicit smiles easily and reduce our stress levels, if we would only pay attention to them.

An Indian family that barges into a train for instance, complete with bags and toddlers in tow, somewhat late and in a tizzy. The huffing and puffing portly spoilt young man, the self-assured young lady who is his elder sister, their parents, both trying to look young still, not very successfully. If only we would notice such people, without making them feel conscious of course, we would find humour in everyday situations.

At a recent conference, a senior doctor who was a fellow panellist, decided to share the following joke with us speakers, on stage, just before the session began (reproduced here in my own words): A man was named ‘Unbelievable’ for some unearthly reason. He warned his wife not to write his name on his epitaph once he passed away. She had the following words inscribed, once the fateful day had come and gone: Here lies a man who never lied, never cheated and never said a bad word. And visitors to the cemetery who read these words had only one comment to make: “Unbelievable!”

Having laughed heartily at this joke, all of us took our seats and got down to the business of discussing more mundane matters, but I could not help thinking how unbelievable the good doctor himself was and is. He had the verve, the presence of mind and the panache to come up with such a lively bit of humour on stage before people he had never met, and before a serious debate was to ensue.

People like him need to be emulated. There are too few of us these days who can come up with a lighter comment in a situation of urgency, let alone a moment of anxiety.

Spontaneous laughter can also bring an argument to an end and ease serious tensions at times. Helpguide.org, a website which collaborates with the Harvard Medical School, emphasises the fact that being creatively humorous improves relationships and avoids conflicts within the family. It also states (rather helpfully) that no such joke should poke fun at any one of the parties involved. Sensible advice!

PG Wodehouse was the master of ironical humour of course, and he could implant a not-so-subtle dose into even torrid happenings.

Samples of his writings, such as the following, if read in the midst of a harrowing day would surely change the mood within minutes: “He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.”

And of course there’s no better way to change the mood more irrevocably than a few laughs shared with family and friends. We need ample doses of such ‘medicine’ to combat the ills that a maddening world keeps throwing at us. There is no other way actually to beat the pernicious effects of pace of life that we all live these days. Laughter leads to healthier lives too.

Sometimes we find an incident that crops up in our lives when no-one is around to share it with. One just does not know whom to laugh it over with. But go ahead and laugh anyway even if onlookers may find you to be off your rocker!

For instance, a quote that caught my eye and made me chuckle to myself goes like this: “I’ve just invented a new word: Plagiarism!”

Laugh away, friends, it’s the only way to be.

vivek.atray@gmail.com

First Published: Jun 09, 2018 22:27 IST