“Humour,” says Edward deBono, who coined the term lateral thinking, “is by far the most significant behaviour of the human mind.”
Stephen R.Covey, in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, says that there are four gifts: self-awareness, conscience, creative imagination and independent will which reside in the space between what happens to us and our response to it. He goes on to add that there is fifth human gift: a sense of humour which emerges from the blending of the other four. ‘Gaining a humorous perspective requires self-awareness, the ability to see the irony and paradox in things and to reassert what is truly important. Humour draws upon creative imagination, the ability to put things together in ways that are truly new and funny. True humour also draws on conscience so that it is genuinely uplifting and doesn’t fall into the counterfeit of criticism or putting people down. It also involves willpower in making the choice to develop a humorous mind-set – to not to be reactive, to not to be overwhelmed.’
We cannot deny that Laughter is, in most cases, the best medicine. Yet we choose to ignore this universal truth. Robin S. Sharma in his bestseller ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ quotes a study according to which an average four year old laughs three hundred times a day while the average adult laughs fifteen times a day. Sharma emphasises that with all the obligations, stresses and activities that fill our days we have forgotten how to laugh.
In the case of Indians this is even truer. We as a nation are notorious for lacking a sense of humour. This phenomenon is quite strange since we have so many reasons to laugh about – our holier than thou politicians, the pompous bureaucrats, the pampered cricketers, the overpaid film stars, et al. And yet we take life so seriously. Every little thing peeves us no end. We go on dharnas, strikes and bandhs at the drop of a topi. We indulge in riots before you can say Almighty. Yet, indulging in a laugh riot is an anathema to us? Why can’t we make humour a part of our lifestyle?
We take our lives too seriously. Some of us have almost forgotten how to laugh. This attitude gets passed on to our children and as a result humour, happiness and health become a casualty. Let us, as parents, invoke the child in each of us and learn to spread cheer and joy.