There are many serious subjects we have to deal with in our lives and on the planet. But being in a continuos serious mood does not help us to deal with them most efficiently. We can easily become over-burdened, stressed out and even unpleasant to be around. If you feel you are too serious, it helps to find a good role model.

A good example of the balance between joy and seriousness is the Dalai Lama. In the book The Practice of Happiness by John Kehoe (Zoetic Inc.), Kehoe tells of a somber ceremonial affair honoring the years Nobel laureates: “Many dignitaries were in attendance including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize), the Dalai Lama and various others. The Dalai Lama was standing directly behind Bishop Tutu, who was sitting in a heavy wooden, straight-backed chair. At a particularly earnest moment of the proceedings, Bishop Tutu’s hat was abruptly pushed down over his eyes. The Bishop was startled, but didn’t have to look back to know who was responsible. The Dalai Lama was laughing.”

Kehoe also tells of a business lunch that he attended where the Dalai Lama was being honoured. He writes: “Representatives from various religious groups, business movers and shakers, and numerous local celebrities were in attendance. The Dalai Lama sat at the head table, holding court, and throughout the meal he had everyone around him laughing. When it came time to speak, however, he spoke very eloquently and with emotion about the plight of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. What impressed me most about the event was that, even with the obvious burden he felt in his heart for his people and homeland, the Dalai Lama could still so easily find time for joy and laughter.”

It would not help the Dalai Lama’s cause or the burden of his oppressed people if he walked around with a long face, feeling sorry for himself. We are most effective when we are well balanced with seriousness and joy. Another good example of someone with a good balance is Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, founder of the Gesundheit Institute, and made popular by the movie Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Being a doctor is a serious business, and yet joy in the right way greatly enhances it.

Spontaneous laughter.

The best form of laughter is unplanned. If you try to do something funny, it is premeditated, so it helps to surrender that desire and just be patient for the opportunity for laughter to arise. They will come your way much more often if you have a healthy attitude towards life, and are able to laugh at yourself. A simple example is an occasion when a friend of mine was visiting from out of town. I took her to one of my favourite play destinations, Science World. They have amazing displays and fun activities, and we came across the Chladni plates display. I have studied a lot about the science of sound, and here was an opportunity to show her how they worked (with my ego peeking its head out).

By putting sand on these metal plates and vibrating them with the violin-like bow provided, the sand rearranges itself into beautiful geometric patterns. I was busy setting the one plate up, but she was more interested in trying it on her own plate. So she asked me in a kind of cute child-like way, “Can you put some sand on my plate?”. I was quite disappointed, and for some reason responded like a little boy: “No, you get your own sand.” For a second she looked at me with shock, then started giggling, and then totally cracked-up. I then realised how ridiculous this all was, and started laughing too, not just at myself, but at how funny she was finding it. It was one of those bent-over, rib-aching, tear-flowing laughs where neither of us could speak or hardly breath for several minutes. These spontaneous opportunities for joy are the ones we treasure most in our memories.

If you feel the need to work on being more playful, there is a wonderful little book called Play Therapy by Michael Joseph (Elf-help Books, Abbey Press, St. Meinrad, IN, 1990). It contains 35 gems (with great illustrations), like: “5. Remember: you have intrinsic value and goodness. You don’t have to prove it by ceaseless productivity.”

Author's Bio: 

Craig Nicholson is a writer, inspirational speaker, professional pilot, and founder of the websites Balance for Wholesome Living and The One-Stop Survival Preparedness Guide.