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If you can’t laugh, it’s not sacred. That’s a philosophy I live by.

Keeping your sense of humor alive is an important part of learning any technique or process, especially if the goal is self-improvement.

It was my sense of humor that got me through my sad early years. Coming from a typically dysfunctional home with a mentally ill, often institutionalized mother and an emotionally distant Archie Bunker of a father, I learned at an early age that I couldn’t let what other people said or did interfere with my desire, decisions and actions. You have to be smart, intuitive, sensitive, tough and have a good sense of humor to get through difficult times and build a great life.

A sense of humor is a tremendous asset when it comes to relationships too, as it’s one of the most valuable and attractive qualities a person can have. If you can keep looking for the humor in your situation together, you’ll find it and eventually find a way out of that difficult time. Humor helps you to keep moving forward, even in the face of defeat.

I have never been interested in any spiritual practice, belief system or ceremony, where you couldn’t laugh or otherwise express joy. So you can imagine my delight when I was studying with one of the twentieth century’s great philosophers, Professor Arnold Keyserling at the University of Vienna, and he stated unequivocally, “If you can’t laugh, it’s not sacred.”

Having one of your core beliefs confirmed by someone you respect is a sign that you’re on the right path. This happened to me again when reading the opening line of one of the Dalai Lama’s books: The Purpose of Life is to be Happy.

Laughter really is the best medicine in Native American tribal stories and folklore too because, when it's about survival, you learn to laugh at things.

Basically, laughter helps us to break down our defenses and accept our idiosyncrasies and perceived mistakes. When you reveal and accept your quirks, others will too.

Humor is also an act of bravery in the face of conflict, and it’s interesting to try to use it for good that way. It makes us more accepting of personality differences and tensions, understanding of other people’s strengths as well as weaknesses. If we deliver the truth in a funny, loving way, we can reduce suffering and help our loved ones overcome and clarify personal issues. And then, hopefully, we can all laugh about it.

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