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Born to Laugh: The Element of Humor in Play

Holiday time is a good occasion to think about humor and play since it’s filled with reflection, rest, and relaxation with relatives and friends—a time to play again. Like vacation time, holidays let us back off a bit, lighten up, and try to laugh a lot more, for our own good. I firmly believe that the day we stop playing is the day we stop living.

Interactive activities such as partying, role-playing, baking, feasting, and playing sports—or even just watching them—bring people together in pleasant and productive settings. These and other seasonal engagements foster an essential camaraderie. Folks find themselves engaged in ways that naturally and spontaneously bring them to the brink of happiness. And it’s usually hearty and wholesome laughter that pushes them over. It doesn’t matter if the laughter is ignited by a flour fight in the kitchen or from a lightly contested game of Go Fish, the result is exactly the same—joy and delight. Through these get-togethers, we voluntarily lower our guards a bit and frolic; as the saying goes, we start to dance like no one is watching. And this is nothing but good for us. Most adults have playful instincts that we must not deny; whether those instincts are active and athletic, quiet and calming, or private and personal, they need to be recognized and exercised in appropriate ways. Sadly, some grown-ups today seem incapable of play and laughter. (I think most just need to be properly tickled, don’t you?) Without openness to humor and play, Mister Scrooge wins every time. It’s really only the lighter moments of our lives, these playful times, which get us through the tougher ones. Make yourself a new resolution—that you will laugh more and that you will make an earnest effort to tickle the fancies of everyone around you. We’ll all be the better for it. Red Skelton once said, “I won’t mind dying if I can tell St. Peter a joke he hasn’t heard.” The day we stop laughing is, well, you know. Humor nurtures laughter. Laughter facilitates happiness. Happiness induces playfulness. And, playfulness fosters growth—at all levels.