Harvey Mackay

The Importance of Humor

There is an Apache legend that the Creator gave human beings the ability to talk, run and see. But he was not satisfied until he also gave them the ability to laugh. Pleased with what he had done, the Creator said, “Now you are fit to live.”

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing remains the same: Humor is a tremendous stress reliever and is more important than ever if we're to keep an optimistic outlook for the future. Besides, April is National Humor Month. I like to readjust my outlook by reading stories that have a message that stays with me. Here are some of my favorites.

At the end of a particularly frustrating practice one day, a football coach dismissed his players by yelling, “Now, all you idiots, go take a shower!” All but one player headed toward the locker room. The coach glared at him and asked why he was still there. “You told all the idiots to go, sir,” the player replied, “and there sure seems to be a lot of them. But I am not an idiot.”

And speaking of idiots, a minister, a Boy Scout and a computer executive were flying to a meeting in a small private plane. About halfway to their destination, the pilot came back and announced that the plane was going to crash and that there were only three parachutes for four people.

The pilot said, “I am going to use one of the parachutes because I have a wife and four small children,” and he jumped.

The computer executive said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and my company needs me,” and he jumped.

The minister turned to the Boy Scout and, smiling sadly, said, “You are young and I have lived a good, long life, so you take the last parachute and I'll go down with the plane.”

The Boy Scout said, “Relax, reverend, the smartest man in the world just strapped on my backpack and jumped out of the plane!”

While we’re on the subject of truly smart people, here are a couple goodies about two giants in American history, Henry Ford and George Washington Carver.

Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Co. who introduced mass manufacturing techniques to America, was asked at his 50th wedding anniversary about his secret to a good marriage. He replied, “The formula is the same as in car manufacturing. Stick to one model.”

Carver, the agricultural scientist and inventor who discovered more than 300 uses for the peanut and helped to save the South with his crop rotation plans, told this lesson on humility and humor. “When I was young, I asked God to tell me the mystery of the universe.

"But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for me alone.' So I said, 'Then, God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.'

"And God said, 'George, that’s more nearly your size.'”

Speaking of peanuts, they say elephants never forget. Ask the man who had gone to the circus as a small boy and didn’t make a return visit until years later. He was sitting in a cheap seat when an elephant came along, reached up into the stands, wrapped his trunk gently about the man and carried him over to deposit him gently in the best seat in the circus tent.

The man turned to his neighbor and said, “The elephant remembered that the last time I was here, years ago, I fed him peanuts.”

Just then the elephant came back, lifted his trunk, pointed it straight at the man and blew a stream of water in his face.

“Oh!” the man said. “I forgot I gave them to him in the bag.”

Now for one of my all-time favorites. A carpenter entered a doctor’s office. The receptionist asked him why he was there.

“I have shingles,” the carpenter replied. And so a nurse was summoned.

“Why are you here today?” she asked the carpenter.

“I have shingles,” was the answer.

She took his blood pressure, temperature, height and weight, and told him to change into a gown and wait for the doctor.

When the doctor came in, the carpenter told him again, “I have shingles.”

“Where?” the doctor asked.

Impatiently, the carpenter said, “Where do you think? Outside, in my truck.”

I hope these anecdotes have brightened your day. A good sense of humor is a lifeline to better days ahead.

Mackay’s Moral: Remember, tough times don’t last, but tough people do!