If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh,
otherwise they’ll kill you. – Oscar Wilde
What does that mean?
This quote is a variant on an ancient Mongolian Proverb: “A Man About To Tell The Truth Should Keep One Foot In The Stirrup.” And that’s for the same reason.
Telling the truth can be hazardous to your health! These are probably also part of another old saying “Don’t Kill Me, I’m Just The Messenger!” However, historically, it did happen from time to time.
The point of the quote, in my opinion, is to use a little sugar to help the medicine go down. In short, sugar coat it. Help to soften the blow.
While he might have been speaking metaphorically about being killed, people in positions of power have been known to ruin careers over trivial seeming things. That’s not a good way to do things
Why is the appropriate use of humor important?
Most people can only manage one emotional state at a time. If you can get them laughing first, it’s harder to get angry, much less work themselves into a murderous rage.
Humor is also useful in defusing tense situations, and helping calm frayed nerves. How many TV shows or movies have had a confrontation end when the funny person intervenes with a joke? Perhaps all is not forgotten, but there is no fight for the moment.
Humor can help with all sorts of aggravations and negative feelings. Laughter, so I’m lead to understand, releases all kinds of chemicals into the bloodstream which help us feel good, and help to reduce some of the stress chemicals in our systems.
Even the medical profession uses humor to help patients. Why wait until you’re in the hospital to let humor help you feel better? This is a time when sooner is better than later, and more is better than less. But like anything, if you spend all day laughing, you might be over-doing it a bit.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This is one of those things that can be used pretty much anywhere. I believe it can even be used at funerals, although a great deal of tact would have to be used. While I’m not that good, I have seen people who were, and managed to lighten the mood a bit.
The way laughter changes our bodies is part of why there have been comedies since at least Ancient Greece, and probably for quite some time before that. Stone-Age stand-ups? It wouldn’t surprise me. It helps you feel better, and can be a bonding experience, so who knows?
Imagine taking an evening, and getting away from the stresses of life and laughing a bit. In ancient times, it was a play, today it’s a TV show or a movie. Same basic idea, slightly different delivery, but the same basic impact on our lives.
How many times has a well timed joke changed your mood? How often do you tune in to a particular show, just to get a laugh? Even re-runs of a show you’ve seen before still works, doesn’t it? And with that, you feel a little better. Maybe even a lot better. And that’s part of why we do it.
Something you might want to consider is trying to remember a time you laughed. Not just a little, but a great big laugh. Knee slapping, fall on the floor and roll around laughing might be the best. Do you already have a smile on your face?
For me, there are a couple of times like that, all of which, amazingly enough, revolve around things I did with my brother. Whether it was getting him to shoot milk out his nose or the assassination of Snoopy, just thinking about them makes me giggle, and it changes my insides. My mood, even my posture, changes.
How would it feel to know you could inject yourself with humor at a moments notice? When would you use it? How often would you use it? Who would you trust to use a word or two to remind you of the humorous event when you were stressing?
And remember, if you have to tell someone something unpleasant, try to use a little humor to soften the blow. It might just buy you enough time to get back in the saddle and out of there alive.