Humor and God have one main thing in common: they’re both subjective.
Come to think about it, most of the important things in life are subjective: what you like to eat, who you find attractive, what sort of music you find inspiring.
So can you learn how to be funny or believe in God?
Personally, my spirituality was strongly impacted as a youth by the John Lennon lyric that said:
“God is a concept by which we measure our pain.”
I was skeptical, certainly, but I think his statement contains some powerful truths.
My husband also recently reminded me of the Jim Morrison lyric, “you cannot petition the Lord with prayer.” I find truth in this statement too, which is why I say “thanks, God, for what I’ve already got.”
Does this mean that we find anything at all meaningful in either one of these songs or thoughts about God? No, because spirituality and religious beliefs are subjective.
Then there’s humor.
I happen to think Will Ferrell is hilarious. From Funny or Die’s Pearl to Buddy the Elf to his impersonation of Robert Goulet; that man’s a riot. My mom, on the other hand, thinks he’s flat out annoying. What, then, do different types of humor, regardless of whether or not they’re dirty or family friendly, have in common besides their subjectivity? The same thing as differing views on God—they come from an internal place of authenticity.
John Lennon continued his song with thoughts and opinions that I don’t necessarily share, but then he gets to what, for me at least, are the bread and butter of his lyrics; “I just believe in me.” It’s a reinforcement that there’s a genuineness that we all have; a unique potential to radiate from within and impact the world—but you have to believe in yourself first.
Similarly, what do your favorite comedians all have in common?
They speak a raw truth that emanates from within. They say things that you think but that you would never say out loud. They say things you feel, but maybe didn’t even realize you felt, until you heard someone else verbalize it. There’s an honest, authentic light that shines from something truly humorous.
So can you learn to be funny or believe in God? Yes—but you have to look inside of yourself.
Sure, there’s almost guaranteed to be some religion out there that jives with what you think, if religious connections are important to you.
Personally, my views on religion and spirituality shape shift with my life, because one self-belief that I hold firmly to is that my firmly held beliefs should keep changing. For example, right now I’m not so sure that all events in life happen for a reason. In other words, terrible things happen because they happen and not because there’s some powerful force at work that has reasons you don’t yet understand. Rather things happen and you have to get through it to simply survive; not because there’s a pot of gold waiting, but because you have no choice. It’s life.
On the other hand, there have been times in my life when believing that an unseen force has a reason for my suffering was helpful in getting me through the trying circumstance—and maybe that’s necessary for you now.
Humor, religion, spirituality (which is not the same thing as religion), music, sports, food, love—all of these things are subjective—and that’s what makes them so special, and that’s why we want the answers so badly. We want them badly enough that sometimes we might even think we want someone else’s answers if we can’t find our own.
So how do you learn to be funny and to believe in God? First, you have to believe in yourself, and then you have to let that belief shine out into the world. If that sounds simple, then I’m pretty sure you haven’t tried it.
I could tell you how I feel a connection to something bigger than me, whether or not you choose to call it “God.”
1. I look into my daughter’s eyes when she’s smiling.
2. I feel the intimacy that my husband and I share.
3. I think of the synchronicity that joins seemingly unconnected life events.
I could also tell you that I think I’m hilarious, and if you laugh at one of my jokes I’ll probably tell it to you at least one more time, or that I make my husband laugh by singing in a terrible yet recognizable Cher voice. Additionally, I find Charles Dickens hilarious and love putting silly English words into my daily language.
I could tell you all of these things and a mountain of others—but all I’d be doing is connecting you to my inner self rather than your own.
So what makes you tick? What makes you laugh? Do you make a funny comment inside yet never let it leave your lips? Do you feel something that deeply resonates within you, something that you might call divinity?
Can you be funny if you’re not being honest or raw?
(My answer is yes, but for me this involves the God topic instead of humor, in the form of phony evangelists that aren’t meaning to be funny—and that’s an entirely different topic of conversation.)
Never say never, and live your life from an honest place within yourself. Let go of your mask and come out and play. That’s how to be funny.
I’ll leave the believing in God part up to you.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta