There was an old man. He knew his time was up. He called his children together and said to them: “I have no material things, which I can leave to you. But I shall give you four rules of life. If you live up to them, you will be among the happiest of men. And happiness is all man needs.”
The four rules were…
First, never be afraid of what they say. “They” exist only in your fears and imagination. What you do is what counts. Do what YOU regard as right. Do it in the living Presence of God. And say to yourself: “Let them say what they want to say!”
Second, do not run after material things. You think you possess things. In truth, you are possessed by them. The more you have, the less is your freedom. Never surrender your freedom and always enjoy life as it comes.
Third, take serious things lightly. And take light things seriously. It is the little things that count.
Fourth, laugh as often as you can. And always laugh at yourself first, before others do. There is something ludicrous about every person. Watch yourself in a spirit of detachment: and don’t be afraid to own your faults and failings.
I am told that some comedy programmes on TV use what is called ‘canned laughter’- that is, taped sounds of people’s laughter which are mixed into the programme so that people watching TV may also be ‘prompted’ to join the laughter.
This is not the kind of artificial humour I am talking about. People who laugh at crude, vulgar jokes are not really happy—their laughter cannot bring true release. It can only be hollow, bitter laughter.
Vulgarity, rudeness and malice in any form lack the subtlety of true humour. George Santayana tells us: “To be happy is to sing; not to be made to sing, or sing by rote, or as an art or for a purpose, but spontaneously, because something sings within you, and all else for the moment, ceases to matter.”
That is true laughter! Happy are the people who can laugh¬—especially those who can laugh at themselves!
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