I found a couple of definitions of humor that I think fit together quite nicely. 1. The quality of being amusing or comic. 2. A mood or state of mind. There are other definitions, of course, but I want to discuss some aspects of the first definition – that often has an effect on the second.

      If there is a quality of someone that I would consistently rank high, it is humor. How many times has a joke, a pun, or a clever take on words brought a smile to your lips and increased the happiness of an already-pleasurable moment? Or, maybe more importantly, how many times has the well-timed insertion of something funny been able to defuse a tense or argumentative situation? Yes, there are times when humor is inappropriate, but those times, I submit, are very much in the minority.

      Something about humor touches a place inside us where we experience a pleasure somewhat unlike anything else. It may be the surprise of an answer we didn’t expect, the satisfaction of understanding the point of a joke, the release of tension when a confusion is resolved, or related emotions. The point is, humor invites focus on something unknown but expected to be good (and away, perhaps, from something troubling); a shared experience with others receiving the humor; and possibly the anticipation of a good belly laugh. When your friend says he/she has a joke, you are a (very) willing participant.

      Humor is often the best antidote for sadness, fear, contentiousness, intellectual over-stimulation and many other feelings. We prize someone who has the ability to remember and tell a good joke, and someone with the ability to introduce a humorous thought at just the right time. And conversely, don’t we feel some pity for someone who seems unable to “get in the moment” and recognize and appreciate humor? Smiling seems so natural, and I’m thinking of the old adage that “it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown,” (which, apparently isn’t true, but you get the point). I say let’s celebrate and encourage humor. It is one thing that I don’t think we can get enough of in this complicated and challenging world.   Say, got a good joke?