On a path to be a Mennonite pastor, I had gone back to school at age 30 in order to prepare for seminary, along with three small children, a supportive wife and a congregation sponsoring us. While in undergrad I took an acting class, and fell in love with this art form.
One of the discoveries I made when writing my graduate thesis was that humor provides psychological, physical, spiritual, and social benefits. The benefit that most resonated with me is the way that humor helps us to manage stress.
I looked around the room at my friends, each straining to make circular motions with their less-than-flexible hips while trying to keep their heads still, and tried (unsuccessfully) to stifle a giggle.
My mother Hallie passed away this month at age 68. She was beautiful, smart, curious, compassionate, and rebellious, a compulsive reader and a talented psychotherapist. But of all her attributes, none surpassed her capacity to laugh.
Something may be real for us, but not validated by the outside world, and all of us experience this feeling at some point. We live in a reality that is surrounded by mysteries, but our culture is obsessed with explaining them away, so we find peace in the mystery of our dreams.
When you're stressed, it is so tempting to fantasize about being not stressed. You imagine feeling peaceful and relaxed later -- but fantasizing about being unstressed at some other time or place doesn't help you in this moment, right now, right here, in the midst of the stress.
My career as a writer leads me to the conclusion that three "L" words make life worth living: Linguine, literature and laughter. In this video you'll see how to make a good red sauce for linguine, while hearing crazy stories about literature.
My teacher knew a cardinal rule of moral instruction: Never take yourself too seriously. That master of pedagogy, the great poet-saint Rumi, reminds us that "the true teacher knocks down the idol the student makes of him."
Fun is often thought of as superfluous, extra, something to get to when you have time and a tool not to be used in serious situations. But fun can be, and has been, a powerful tool for transformation when tapped appropriately.