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Humor: My Teachable Moment

At any moment in time, things can happen that can disrupt our day. We can learn important insights at such times.

Here is something that happened to me that became a teachable moment. It illustrates how frustrating and irritating events can become priceless lessons.

My Teachable Moment

I was washing clothes, preparing for a family camping trip. The water flow to my washing machine had been exceedingly slow and I had improvised by attaching a hose from my laundry tub faucet to my washing machine to fill it.

When the phone rang in our office, I didn’t bother to shut off the faucet because I hadn’t planned on being gone for more than a minute. But it was a business call that took longer than anticipated. As I answered questions and took down information I completely forgot about the laundry until I hung up the phone. Then I remembered with panic, the water was still running.

I dashed into the kitchen and saw with horror the water overflowing from a very full washing machine, onto my floor, flooding the laundry room and adjoining kitchen. In a recent remodel we had installed kitchen carpet, which was the rage at that time, to both the kitchen and laundry room. The carpet was saturated and the water was pooling on top.

I shut off the faucet and stood there appalled, thinking about all the things that needed to be done before leaving the next day. How would I clean up this mess on top of packing?  It wasn’t just the carpet that needed to be dried, but also boxes of sewing material that had been stacked at the end of the laundry room.

It was at this precise moment when my husband opened the door from the garage and stepped into the laundry room, and stopped short as he looked first at the floor and then at me. And as was his nature, he immediately saw the absurdity and humorous side of the situation.

I remember thinking as I looked at him: don’t you dare laugh. It is not funny. If you had fixed that water pressure problem weeks ago, I wouldn’t be in this situation.

But I didn’t say it because in the very next second I received a thunderbolt revelation. I could either remain angry or I could laugh. I had a choice. I could see the funny side. Either way, the cleanup job needed to be done. But with humor, the job would be so much easier.

I have shared this story many times because of the valuable lesson I learned. I vividly remember how my whole demeanor and body changed when I made the decision to see humor instead of engaging in anger. There might be an immediate instinctive and automatic response to events, but we don’t have to stay there. We can choose to see things differently.

Why is this story relevant? Because medical research tells us how powerful humor and laughter can be to our overall health. According to Psychology Today, “Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.”

If humor and laughter are so powerful, why don’t we do more of it?

We can learn to laugh at ourselves and circumstances. It’s not just a fun way to approach life, but a powerful medicine that heals the soul and mends the body.

Laughter is a tonic that makes today better and creates hope for tomorrow.  Humor is a mini-vacation, a “breath of fresh air,” and a way to cope.

Comedians make their lively-hood by taking traumatic circumstances and spinning them into humor. Each of us has the same ability to create humor and laugh in spite of our tears.

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”  -Mark Twain

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” -H.G. Wells

What makes you laugh?

What stories of your past could you revisit and discover that kernel of humor?

You will have moments when everything goes wrong and your first response is anger and frustration. But you do not need to stay there. The next time you want to rage with anger or sink into despair, stop and re-frame the situation. Find that humor, chuckle, and laugh.

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!!!”

-Leo Buscaglia

Marlene Anderson

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2 Responses to “Humor: My Teachable Moment”

  1. Reply Sue Peterson

    This is so true, thank you for the memorable story and reminder to look for and choose humor in the challenges of daily life. Makes me think of a quote from the movie Steel Magnolias: “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

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