No. 448



Laughter is good medicine. If you have not had a dose in a while, it's high time you did. Here is what George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright and philosopher, had to say about laughter. ÊHe said, "Laughter is that older and greater church to which I belong: the church where the oftener you laugh the better, because by laughter only can you destroy evil without malice, and affirm good fellowship without mawkishness." As a quick aside, the word "mawkishness" is one that I was not familiar with and had never used before. It means, "characterized by false or feeble sentimentality: sickening or insipid." Well, so much for that.

For the past several days I have been chuckling about a story I heard a while back and I thought you might enjoy it as well. It seems a man and his wife had four sons and their ages were fairly close together. It was a real struggle, but somehow this man and his wife were able to send all four boys to college and they got a good education. In time they all prospered and became doctors and lawyers and each became quite wealthy. After many years had passed, the old man passed away and the elderly mother was left alone. Knowing this situation, each of the successful sons decided to do something special for her.

Some time later they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who lived far away in another city. The first said, "I had a big house built for mama." The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater build in the house." The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600." The fourth said, "Listen to this. You know how mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read it anymore because she can't see very well. I met this priest who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty priests 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just names the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."

The other brothers were impressed. In a few weeks after receiving the gifts, Mom sent out her Thank You notes. To the first son she wrote, "Sam, the house you built is huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway." To the second she wrote, "Bill, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound. It could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead. I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same."

To the third she wrote, "Frank, I am too old to travel. I stay home and have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks!" And to the fourth she wrote, "Dearest Julian, you were the only son to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious! Thank you." As I said earlier, I've been chuckling about this story for days. Hope you enjoyed it as well. As I travel around the country making speeches, I love to inject humor into my talks. It helps the audience to relax and it helps me to relax, as well. Also humor or laugher helps to pass the time. As the old saying goes, "Time flies when you are having fun."Ê

While I always want to have a message or a serious side of my talks, I've noticed that the humor speakers usually get invited back more often and they also receive a larger fee. For some people humor comes easy and for others it does not. If you do some speaking or serve as an officer of a civic club where you have to preside, here is a tip that may be of value. Make yourself the butt end of your jokes. Few are those who are offended if you are poking fun at yourself.

Here is an example of what I am saying and this story has to do with the use or unwise use of credit cards in our society. From all indications there are millions of people in our nation today who are "maxed out," which is to say no more credit until they pay some on their debt. Unless someone has been charging things to my credit card that I don't know about, I believe our credit is good. However, I'm not so sure after something that happened the other day. Viola and I were shopping for a waterbed, as she needs the heat because of her Parkinson's, and we picked out one that we thought she would be happy with.

After a few minutes the salesman said, "On this particular model you pay $50 down and then you don't pay any more for 6 months." Viola looked at him kind of funny and said, "Who told you about us?" The best kind of humor is when you are poking fun at yourself or your wife, (by previous agreement only) and everyone leaves with an upbeat, positive feeling because they have enjoyed themselves and had a good time. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)