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Tackling Stress With A Sense Of Humor

by Greg Baker  
4/28/2010 / Church Life


A sense of humor is essential for handling the stresses of life. The ability to find something funny in life is a key feature to discovering joy in a rather dreary world. Laughter allows you to bleed tension out of your mind and body. It allows you to deal with difficult situations.

Recently, someone busted the window of my truck and stole the mp3 player and all of my CD's. Now, I'm a pastor, and most of my CD's were of gospel music, preaching, or the Bible being read aloud. When my neighbor came over and told me that someone had broken in, I raise an eyebrow, poked my head out the door and saw the shattered glass and said, "Wow! Someone was desperate to hear some good preaching!" That brought a smile to both my face and my neighbors.

It is so much easier dealing with the difficulties in life if you can find something to smile about. Developing a good sense of humor is essential to this.

The Bible tells us that laughter does good like a medicine. And a weary and troubled heart seldom laughs. Developing a sense of humor, therefore, is essential to breaking down the walls of sadness and depression, releasing tension, finding the good in the bad, and in general enjoying life.

There are many different types of humor. Some are not so good for they rely upon the misfortune of others. Don't develop that sort of humor. It is not funny when someone falls flat on their face. It is not funny when someone strikes out in baseball, or misses the football pass, or overshoots the goal in soccer. The misfortunes of others should not be how you find laughter in life.

Here is a short list of different types of humor:

1. Irony
2. Dry humor
3. Teasing
4. Practical Jokes
5. Slap stick
6. Situational
7. Laughing at yourself

As for myself, I indulge in irony, dry humor, teasing, and laughing at myself. These are the areas where my sense of humor has developed strongly. Irony appeals to me intellectually, dry humor stimulates my wit and imagination, teasing allows me greater interaction with people, and laughing at myself helps me to be comfortable with who I am and what I do.

I find much joy in life. So can you.

DEVELOPING YOUR OWN SENSE OF HUMOR

How do you develop a sense of humor? I think it starts with your ability to laugh at yourself. If you can laugh at yourself, you'll find humor in many other things.

It is interesting really. When someone messes up and gets beat red and embarrassed, I get embarrassed right along with them. You could say that I get embarrassed for them. It is a very uncomfortable feeling. But when someone messes up, and cracks a joke about it. I laugh. They laugh. I feel much more at ease, and their mistake, instead of making me feel awkward is now a source of amusement for the both of us. It draws us together emotionally and creates a sense of camaraderie.

Since I do a lot of public speaking, I've learned to laugh at my verbal mistakes. When I make a mistake I don't blush and look like my world just came to an end. No, I'll crack some joke about it. It puts me at ease, and people see that I am not so self-conscious so they are put at ease too. I may say, "Well, I'm allowed 3 mistakes a year, and that's my second one." People always laugh at that and point out, good naturedly, that I've already exceeded that limit. But it brings everyone together.

Laughing at your self, I believe, is the main ingredient to developing a healthy sense of humor. It will open your eyes to the humor around you. And then, according to your personality, you will develop other areas of humor.

Look for irony in life. When the thieves broke into my truck they also stole a Bible. When my children, all concerned about the break in, asked me about it, I replied, "Well, they needed the Bible to find out that stealing is wrong." My oldest chucked at that. So did I. Stealing a Bible is rather ironic, don't you think?

Look for opportunities to do these things and you'll develop a good sense of humor.

My father taught this to me as I was growing up. My father was born with a birth defect. Both of his arms are only half as long as they ought to be, and he has no thumbs. Both hands are twisted inward so he doesn't have the flexibility that others have. Growing up like this, you either become very, very bitter at life, or you develop an outrageous sense of humor. My father developed the humor. He learned a long time ago to laugh at himself.

For example, my father has no thumbs. So I've seen him bend down before a child sucking his thumbs, usually an older one that needed the habit broken, and put his arms behind his back so his hands could not be seen. He'd say to the child, "Do you know what happened when I sucked my thumbs?" The kid would shake his head negatively. My dad would pull his arms around, present his hands and declare, "I sucked them right off!" The child would pop his thumb out of his mouth and stare with wide eyes.

During Halloween one time, my dad put on this poncho, a hat with an arrow sticking through it, grabbed a huge glass of mountain dew and sat down in a lawn chair in the front lawn. When the trick-or-treaters would come by, my dad would remain absolutely motionless. He wouldn't blink, he wouldn't move, and he would slow his breathing way down. Naturally, everyone's eyes were drawn to my dad's hands. They would whisper amongst themselves, "It can't be real. Do you think it's real? Naw, that can't be real." A few would even come over and poke my dad in the arm to see if he was real. He still wouldn't flinch or move or say a word. They would often declare him not real and march up to the door to ring the doorbell. My dad would simply follow them on up and stand behind them until they noticed. You can imagine the reactions. It was funny.

Learn to do as my dad did. Learn to laugh at yourself. You'll overcome so many problems in life and you'll deal with stress so much more easily if you can develop a sense of humor.

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