The word ‘humour‘ originally meant a fluid. The mediaeval doctors believed that there were four prominent fluids or humour in the body — blood, phlegm, choler and melancholy; and that a man’s physical and mental characteristics were determined by the ratio of those properties. This doctrine has now been abandoned, but ‘humour’ has remained in the sense of good temperament or state of mind. It is the power to appreciate wit and fun and it gives us the ability to laugh and make others laugh. It plays an important role in our daily routine of life and relationship. In fact, it is the spice of life.
Good humour is also a valuable defence in fighting against worries and in battles of life. It energises us not to get upset in the face of every misfortune and helps us to come out of odd situations. But a joke is never humorous if it is done to hurt others. On the other hand, a good-humoured person is one who is not easily provoked or irritated, takes things in a genial and friendly spirit and gets a pleasant companion.
It is a healthy attitude to life. It is also a good habit and maybe cultivated throughout one’s life. Life is neither too good nor too bad. It is what make of it. If you develop an attitude of looking at the dark side of life only, you cannot enjoy your life. On the other hand, if you have some sense of humour, you will find something consoling or even amusing in many unhappy situations.
Humour is thus the defining characteristic between the pessimist and the optimist. It is useful to maintain mental balance and adds spice to otherwise stale parties on many occasions. And people with a strong sense of humour become very popular and their presence in any gathering is highly appreciated. In this way, humour helps people to derive happiness from little things of life and develops self-awareness.
We can see the sense of humour as a characteristic of great men too. Albert Einstein, Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda, among the greatest men of recent times, were gifted with great wit and humour. They had the ability even to laugh at themselves. The literary figures like Shakespeare, Shaw, Dickens and Lamb have depicted life in varied colours, and humour shines there like a flash of lightning. It not only attracts a large number of readers but also ensures them a high place among the all-time greats in the field of literature.
So, instead of getting angry when something goes wrong, we should try to look for the humour in odd situations. It eases tensions and can make even the worst of situations tolerable. In earlier times there were official buffoons — jesters — to amuse the kings. Now the Presidents and Prime Ministers who have taken the place of kings have no such scope of amusement.
But they too, are in the garb of amusing cartoons, exciting our laughter. There are laughing clubs for the public too. But they contain very little humour. Rather they supply some exercise of lungs to get the people satisfied to fill their quota of laughter for the day. Humour acts in a greater way, and through it, we can learn to relax and look at the flaw of life in amusing attitude. Even the targets of laughter can also mend their behaviour in a balanced manner.