Since my last post, Ross became a politician, running for office due to unplanned necessity. Thus, I became a politician’s wife (which I immediately embraced due to my recent purchase of a ‘Jackie O-inspired’ dress). Ross and I have always shared a love of history, especially the American Presidency; my love for first ladies and his penchant for reading Presidential biographies has always been a perfect fit. Plus, we’d been watching a lot of House of Cards so we felt ready to take on this new adventure.
We quickly discovered the unpleasant truth of the famous Winston Churchill quote, “…It would be a great reform in politics if wisdom could be made to spread as easily and as rapidly as folly.” We experienced plenty of folly. Apparently, House of Cards had not fully prepared us. Our response to personal attacks was, very simply, to not respond and to find humor in the absurdity.
On Election Day, I wandered into the local library in Idaho City. The library has a small (but well stocked) book store and I ran across a book that I had heard of but never read. The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang is a 1937 classic. It is a philosophy book about mindfulness (before it was referred to as ‘mindfulness’). I bought this book, as it fit in perfectly with my vintage collection and I was interested in reading it.
As I opened the book, there was a yellow piece of paper functioning as a bookmark between pages 78 and 79. The section was On Being Human and the subsection was entitled On the Sense of Humor. It read:
On the other hand, the tremendous importance of humor in politics can be realized only when we picture for ourselves… a world of joking rulers. Send, for instance, five or six of the world’s best humorists to an international conference, and give them the plenipotentiary powers of autocrats, and the world will be saved. As humor necessarily goes with good sense and the reasonable spirit, plus some exceptionally subtle powers of the mind in detecting inconsistencies and follies and bad logic, and as this is the highest form of human intelligence, we may be sure that each nation will thus be represented at the conference by its sanest and soundest of mind.
Imagine, finding this book on Election Day with this page specifically marked! I felt that it was a gift from whoever had it before, perfectly placed in my hands on the day I needed it most. I have often felt this with the Bible and now, with a vintage book. God surely provides.
So it was okay to find humor. It was okay to laugh. It is okay to laugh. It goes with good sense and reasonable spirit. And I agree with this characterization. Think about it…when an idea or assumption is overstated, it only shows the speaker/writer is seriously belaboring it and being belabored by it. They are making the idea or assumption more complex and forcing it onto others. With a simple truth, it is straight-forward, easy, and clear.
As Yutang writes, “The humorist, on the other hand, indulges in flashes of common sense or wit, which show up the contradictions of our ideas with reality with lightning speed, thus greatly simplifying matters.” A sense of humor nourishes simplicity of thought.
So politics are a perfect place for humorists; people who can laugh at themselves and the world around them. People who do not take themselves too seriously because they readily perceive imperfection and are reasonable with expectations, accepting that we are all humorously flawed. Politics are best for people who are clear in thought, in common sense, and in conversation. Apparently, politics suit Ross.
While this idea of humor as it relates to intelligence was highlighted during the campaign, it is an important concept for everyday life. Laughter is healthy; it relaxes the body and boosts your immune system. Laughter releases endorphins, decreases stress, and can be a killer ab workout (in case you can’t make it to the gym… again).
Having a sense of humor indicates good sense and reasonable spirit. It keeps us from taking ourselves and the world around us too seriously. So watch Seinfeld, read Jim Gaffigan’s book on Food, and laugh at yourself. With summer approaching, I’m finding that trying on swimsuits greatly increases my ability to laugh at myself … but at least I’m finally getting my workout in.