There was a country-western song about looking for love in all the wrong places. There’s almost no bad place to look for laughs. The workplace is stressful and a great place to catch people doing something good — most of the time, managers look to catch them doing something wrong.
I spoke at a meeting and during the break I was getting a drink of water outside. One employee told me, “Doing a good job around this place is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a nice, warm feeling, but nobody else seems to notice!”
I got it right this time, marrying Diane, who has a great sense of humor. We got married later in life, and she sent out wedding invitations under her mom’s name: “Ms. Patricia Byron Pfeifer finally announces….” On our honeymoon my curiosity got the best of me. I said to Diane, “Just tell me this: I know you’re 37, but is there any chance that I was your first?” And she said, “Well, you could have been — you look familiar.” I gotta love a lady like that!
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.”
So you can start people on the road to success by creating this kind of environment. Accept their criticism and they will learn to accept your advice. Find and celebrate their beauty. Even giving someone a smile in a crowded elevator is better than giving them the shaft. (Sorry — that sounded really clever in my head! I am sharing it with you to demonstrate the new Beatitude that Father John Powell added to the list: “Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained.”)
Anyhow, it’s just common sense that encouraging people you know to laugh, grow, learn and achieve makes life happier and less stressful for everyone. “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds,” wrote Clive James. “A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”