As adults we may say lightheartedness, a sense of humor, fun or play matter to us yet we seem hard pressed to invite it in or practice it. I attend classes, meetings, gatherings, parties etc, and I’m known to have a sense of humor. I would say my first four to five decades humor was ever present, and those around me were quick and willing to laugh with me.
The past ten years that seems more a struggle. Some of it may be the world news and events we are living through. Some of it is when we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, something in humor is lost. Humor can be a wonderful way to release tension especially with a group of people, and laughter can also help bring a group more together.
I am a trained facilitator, working with different community groups to help build consensus. Usually that is a group of people who come to a meeting with different needs, wants and desires, and absolutely no obligation to agree. Imagine facing such a group with everyone quite passionate and attached to what they would like to see happen? Now in my facilitation training, humor was not a tool taught nor used. How can it be? Yet for me without using my humor and sense of play as part of my communication style and interaction, I don’t know how we could have built trust and got to consensus. And quite honestly, without my humor or sense of play, I would not want to facilitate. When I have had to facilitate a humorless group, I must say that has been very, very, very hard on my spirit.
I guess I took my sense of play and humor for granted. I thought everyone had it, and operated the same way. Growing up it seemed my friends and I laughed a lot, to the point of rollicking on the floor. Beautiful stuff really. And growing up in Canada, a lot of our humor is making fun of ourselves and one another. You give it and you take it. It is mutual, and for me teasing someone is a form of affection. Yet some of us get sensitive, and can’t laugh at ourselves. For me that hurts lightheartedness having expression.
Someone used to say, we are all receivers and transmitters. So if I’m being playful or funny (transmitting) but no one around me is receiving, then there is no play. That is an experience I notice more and more. Maybe we compartmentalize. If we go to a comedy show we are expecting funny so our receiver is on. We go to a meeting, we aren’t expecting funny, so we don’t offer it nor pick up on it. Yet if we want more humor and play in our lives, no matter what we are doing, we need to be open to receiving. And laughing for a few moments, and then getting back to the business at hand is a wonderful connector, a sweet break and often a good way to improve the discussion.
As much as we might want more humor or play in our lives no matter our age, we need to notice how we may not be receptive, or we shut down the humorist. We might think humor or being lighthearted takes away the seriousness of a discussion versus maybe finding the room to laugh might be the best way to manage it.