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Perhaps the single aspect that seems to best cement friendships, camaraderie and mutual respect is the ability to find humor in virtually everything we experience. I know that has always been true for me.

I'm basically talking about choosing to maintain a sense of humor. Sadly, that's become a quality sorely lacking in today's society riddled with so much manufactured anger, self-righteous condemnation and unjustified hatred.

I've always been drawn to those able to laugh at most things while finding ways to make something funny out of many aspects of our lives together. I suspect you probably know what I'm talking about with a few of your own kindred spirits in laughter.

It's just so easy to connect with certain people better than others because their humor synapses are firing in concert with your own. There can be instant bonding between those who laugh at the same things, which says they are passing through life on similar frequencies.

Having a sense of humor includes the willingness to laugh at myself and the many stupid things I pull that cause others to crack up. I learned long ago that recognizing my errors and foolishness allows others to laugh along with (rather than at) me. Plus, it works wonders at breaking the ice while lowering any instinctive urge for others to feel they have to be perfect.

Self-deprecation in tribute to humor can be contagious even to the point of others opening up about their own hilarious blunders. Suddenly, everyone in the circle is feeling a connection.

I can't say whether humans are the only animals to exhibit a sense of humor. I know I've never seen a bird, dog, cat or rabbit laugh, so I suspect, likely because of our intellect, we are alone in expressing spoken and unspoken forms of humor.

Exhibiting one's humor in today's grossly politicized and judgmentally "woke" world unfortunately can land that person in conflict with those who choose to take offense at what often amounts to wit.

For instance, today many of the humor-deficient among us consider the following potential topics for laughter as offensive: Religion, race, right- and left-wing politics, animals, elders, military, police, support groups, handicapped, vegans, gays, transgenders and feminists, to name several.

So what topics does that leave for acceptable amusing retorts in some minds but to poke fun at ourselves? Either that or only sharing humor among a select and "safe" group whose level of sensitivity is restrained by common sense.

Of course, one can always simply continue widely expressing his or her unbridled sense of humor while ignoring any shaming from temperamental circles of the easily offended.

It's really not that difficult to elicit heartfelt laughter from those we meet and know. Often, the humor arises spontaneously from our responses. For instance, when I meet valued readers from around the state who tell me they enjoy the thoughts I share in this column, I usually grow wide-eyed, and respond, "You're the one! I've been looking for you for years!"

Yeah, perhaps a tad wise-assy. But I've yet to meet anyone who didn't laugh in a way that breaks any ice.

Sarcasm, only if taken in the right context with a creative interpretation, can be one of the most effective methods to prompt sincere laughter. Oscar Wilde, considered by many a connoisseur of wit, is credited with saying, "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence."

It's been long advised to write about things you know, so one example might be the day my golfing buddy showed up in a shirt that screamed neon-yellow. I couldn't resist sarcastically asking: "So, I suppose you just couldn't find your yellow shirt this morning?" He laughed out loud.

Comedian/magician Christopher James from Branson believes staying in touch with one's carefree sense of youth helps us take most things in stride, thus allowing us to laugh freely at life.

Make friends with your inner child, he advises. Most of us are so busy with being adults that we leave the inner child at home. We need the ability to see the human-ness of all of us by poking fun at certain human traits.

"Humor is who we are," he continues, adding that if an organization lacks humor, it is inhuman. It takes something very special away from people. If humor is suppressed, other personal characteristics required to do business (including creativity) are also likely to be suppressed.

The bottom line, for me anyway, lies in recognizing that a sense of humor can be a positive and powerful force for diffusing, uniting and healing in our relationships. Some people have an innate ability to find something amusing in most everything, which serves them well.

They can even make me feel good about laughing at myself without taking anything personally. That's the kind of world I choose to grow up with, keeping laughter deeply within my spirit. How about you? Got humor?

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 11/12/2019

Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: Got humor?

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