I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of laughs in my lifetime. Because of my accident I’d learned by five that the only reason to be alive was to enjoy it. And so funny people were very important to me and I sought them out at every turn. I thought my childhood best friend was funny. I thought the Icelandic friend I went to elementary school with was funny. The chubby guy I played floor hockey with was hilarious. The guy that lived across the hall from me at my old apartment was funny. My current favourite neighbour is funny. My dad is funny. Laughs are important.
What’s the point Scott?
Okay, so despite a life with all those and many more funny friends, and despite great comedians and comedies, and despite every other funny thing that’s happened to me, one of the absolute funniest moments of my life came from the strangest source—the person wasn’t even trying to be funny. Now don’t see this as some big setup. You won’t find it funny at all. You would have had to have heard it, and even then you would still have to note the subtle shift in the voices before you’d think it was funny.
I’m often up very late, and when I am, I listen to CBC One’s overnight programming, which includes broadcasts from across Canada and around the world. They’re all excellent shows and I thoroughly enjoy them. One of the shows features a host I find particularly good. He’s funny, smart, widely studied, and dare I say even profoundly compassionate when the interview calls for it (he did one of the best I’ve ever heard). But the night in question was not his shining moment.
He was interviewing the first man to fly a solar aircraft a significant distance (maybe it was across America?). The host asked a lot of smart questions and then he seemed to pause as though he may have lost where he was in his notes. He threw out a rather abrupt question, “Is the aircraft a propeller kind, or a jet?” and I absolutely exploded with laughter. I know to some people this may seem like a legitimate question because they have no idea how jets or props actually work. But I know how they work, so to me was though the host had said, “What fuel does your engine run on, forks or rabbits?” I cannot explain why, but this question would for some very cool reason, be one of the top five funniest things I’d ever heard in my life. I seriously couldn’t stop laughing. But here’s the thing….
The reason I’m writing this is that the same host is doing his show as I write this. And he happened to be interviewing someone who reminded me of that pilot. Think of that word: Re-minded. As in, “put back into my mind.” And the second I shot some electricity through that circuit of my brain again, I loaded some charge into my memory of the previous experience. As soon as I thought of it, the absurdity (that’s what makes us laugh) of the statement hit me the very same way and I once again exploded in laughter just like I do every time I think of him saying that.
Do you get it? It’s just as funny as a memory. Or just as sad. Or just as scary. You’re where you’re thoughts are. Your mood is dictated by what you think. You were in a mood when you started reading this. But as you read it you thought about what I asked you, or encouraged you, or wrote you into thinking. So you felt what I wanted you to feel. That’s the fundamental journey artists take their audiences on—translations of experience.
If your experience with my words was interrupted you would have felt other emotions, depending on the interruption. Some might have made you excited and happy, and other interruptions can be irritating and troublesome. But the point is, the experience of your life will be the judgment you make, so you have to get serious about making those judgments conscious. You have to be responsible.
Trust me, this is the best trade-off you’ll ever make. Just don’t be an Ego. Monitor your thinking. Choose the direction of your thoughts. Don’t live out of blind habit. Because you can laugh anytime you want. You just have to fully invest yourself in thinking about something funny.
This isn’t something you learn. It’s something you practice. Practice laughing by going to places where you are likely to laugh. Practice switching from other states of mind into a funny head-space whenever you can. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Eventually you’ll be able to turn former fights into exchanges of sarcastic wit layered with a dose of humility. But it will always be a Practice.
Start now. Think of an enjoyable time. Fully get into it. Remember what each of your senses was focused on. Go into that Moment, feel it, and translate it to us into our current reality by feeling today what you felt then too—the two moments forever linked in time through a filament of joy.
Such is the nature of happiness.