Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 8

Cheerfulness, Optimism and Humor

Table of Contents

  1. Importance
  2. Cheerfulness
  3. Optimism
  4. Humor

I. Importance

Cheerfulness, Optimism and Humor are three qualities that will make life brighter while we face the difficult challenges of life. It prevents us from being drained by problems. It gives us a sense of perspective, and able to see life philosophically. It makes life fun to live.

II. Cheerfulness

Cheerfulness of disposition is a great source of enjoyment of life, and it is also a great safeguard of character. It furnishes the best soil for the growth of goodness and virtue. It gives brightness to heart and elasticity of spirit. It is the companion of charity, the nurse of patience, the mother of wisdom. It is also the best of moral and mental tonics.

Samuel Smiles

  1. Develop the habit of cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is a habit or a habitual attitude. In the same way that some people can be habitually depressed, others can also be habitually cheerful. Their normal psychological state is light, bright, and cheerful. It is better to develop the second habit rather than the first.

  2. Make reminders to be cheerful. Draw a picture and a message that you can see everyday, such as a smiling cartoon face, with the words Mangoes Up! Bright, Cheerful, and Happy! Mangoes refer to your cheeks, always up in a smile. Put this in your wall, your notebook, your table. Whenever you see this cartoon face, you will tend to want to smile spontaneously.

  3. Practice smiling. Take the effort to practice smiling. If your facial muscles have not been trained for it, it will take sometime, even months, to make smiling spontaneous.

III. Optimism

  1. Appreciate the blessings of life. Life has its bright and dark sides. While we acknowledge the existence of pain and sorrow, but we must be able to constantly appreciate its blessings.

  2. There is always a positive side in every adversity, look for it. Suppose you broke a valuable glass vase, you can look at it as a lesson in non-attachment.

  3. The ultimate purpose of life is growth of the soul. Pain is a necessary part of the growth of the soul. Therefore, when you undergo suffering, you can be certain that your soul is being tested and it is an opportunity for growth.

IV. Humor

Humor is the mental faculty of discovering, expressing or appreciating ludicrous or absurdly incongruous elements in ideas or situations. It is something that we enjoy, and we derive amusement from it. Great men and women invariably possess a healthy sense of humor. Laughing with others brings us closer to them. Taking serious things playfully can give often give us a better sense of perspective. Laughing also releases pent-up emotional energy, thus relieving tension and stress. Laughing can cure you of some illnesses.

     Laughing is a sensation of feeling good all over and showing it
     principally in one spot. If a man cannot laugh, there was a mistake
     made putting him together. Genuine laughing is a vent of the soul,
     the nostrils of the heart, and it is jut as necessary for health
     and happiness as spring water is for a trout.

                               Josh Billings

     Laughter can relieve tension, soothe the pain of disappointment,
     and strengthen the spirit for the formidable tasks that always
     lie ahead.

                               President Dwight D. Eisenhower

     With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, If I did
     not laugh, I should die.

                               President Abraham Lincoln

Here are suggestions on how to develop a wholesome sense of humor:

  1. Read or listen to humorous stories or books. Ex. Reader's Digests: Laughter is the Best Medicine.

  2. Try to remember a few jokes that you like and try telling them to your kids or friends. Do not over dramatize your first attempts. Do not be discouraged when people do not laugh at your first jokes. Try to study the elements of an effective joke.

  3. Avoid jokes that can hurt or offend other people, or that disparage other races, or nationalities. Examples are jokes on invalids, facial ugliness, etc. Many jokes on sex can offend many people, and hence should be used carefully.

  4. Learn to laugh at your own mistakes and blunders. It will diminish your own insecurities and inferiority complex.

    Example: When you laugh at the way you sing, you lose the fear of embarrassment when joining others in fun.

         If you cant take a joke, then you have to take the medicine.
  5. Cultivate a relaxed and fun-loving atmosphere in your home. Share humorous stories at the dinner table with your family. Encourage children to tell jokes and never sneer at their honest efforts.

    Laugh and show your appreciation and enjoyment.

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Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."