Sometimes we try so hard to be happy that we can't possibly have a good time.
These times make it especially necessary to be in touch with the asurdity, the ridiculous, the funniness, and the irony of the everyday.
Having a sense of humor about troubled times is like having a sense of humor about sex or death: humor allows you to have perspective on an otherwise potentially overwhelming prospect.
Humor allows you to elevate and explore rather than denigrate or hide your feelings.
Humor doesn't dismiss a subject but rather often opens that subject up for discussion, especially when the subject is one that is not considered "fit" for public discussion.
Humor can be a short-cut, an eye-opener--the sorts of things people used to use alcohol for--to get to the truth of the matter. The best humor allows for opinion and rebuttal. We shouldn't think that certain kinds of humor must be banned, but we have to be sensitive to how it's used.
We should see humor as a way of making our feelings and responses available to others without terrifying our listeners. When we can frame a difficult matter with humor, we can often reach someone who would otherwise withdraw.
Humor is both a show of strength and of vulnerability--you are willing to make the first move but you are trusting in the response of your listener. Making a generously funny comment, pointing to the absurdity of a situation, turning embarrassment or unease into something to be shared instead of repressed is risky, but it is also often exactly what is needed.
Humor is a way to affirm ourselves, to rise to meet a challenge, channel fear into pleasure, translate pain into courage.
"When in doubt," counsels Cynthia Heimel, "make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."
When we can really laugh, we've declared ourselves the winner, no matter what the situation, because our laughter is an indication of our perspective and control.
Losing yourself in laughter is proof that you are confident enough to risk a moment of joyful abandon. Go on--leap; go on--laugh.