Humor, Fun, and Enjoyment

Sunday, February 12th, 2023, at 7:41 PM Waitara, NZ Time



Author: Mattanaw, Christopher Matthew Cavanaugh

Former Chief Architect, Adobe Systems

Current President/Advisor, Social Architects and Economists International.



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There appears to be something common to a wide range of enjoyable experiences that might be considered a more fundamental kind of humor or playfulness. It is more obviously seen and expressed in goofy humor, in comedy, and in childish fun. Comedy as a category of experience including movie, films, late night television, sitcoms, standup comedy, improv, and so on pervasively includes humor in obvious forms. It is less obvious as it might exist in other settings, like the accomplishment of goals, of the utilization of skills with intense focus to success, in rigorous practice, and in sports involving endurance and intense competition. Elsewhere I’ve written that there need not be clean divisions between emotions and feelings and that if we look closely it appears they often interrelate creating interesting combinations which togther make for very diverse experiences. Humor seems to appear in places one might not think it would and others have communicated this to us in film and art, sometimes within topics that are dramatic or horrible. Humor and fun, or whatever is perhaps more basic to these, appears to relate to much of our lives, and it is not clear where exactly it wouldn’t be present at all, or could not be included if it isn’t. There are occasions in which seriousness becomes prohibitive of fun and humor, and behavior is censored to be more appropriate. However, children might not understand that until they are taught, indicating it is a natural thing to want to include fun and humor even where it is prohibited by adults. Then adults do not appear to agree regarding this prohibition; some think that funerals and death ceremonies should celebrate life and be joyous, whereas some think it needs to be serious and solemn. The disagreement may relate to the artificiality of the rules that exist in a culture, and being all originallly children, there would be an awareness of that artiiciality. It cannot be uniform that all would prefer to keep it unnaturally solemn.

Being something that is related to much of life, it is an appropriate life-category as it exists in this work on moral philosophy, and something worth tracking as part of managing and planning a healthy life. For this reason I included this category in my planning since approximately 2007/8, in my log. Furthermore, it is related to each of the other categories. So as a person is engaged in one activity related to another category related to occupation or fitness, one would not expect that humor would not be something to intermix or plan with it. It is beneficial to be having fun or experiencing some basic humor when one is doing a workout, playing a sport (a phrase which has the word “play” in it), or doing a job. Some will not work in certain places if they do not seem like fun places to work.

It appears to me that a more basic version of humor or playfulness relates to other more basic types of enjoyment like simply seeing what might be absurd in events, in noticing what one may not be very good at doing, or in feeling immediate rewards in what one is good at. Looking at this this way makes it appear that humor is something that really might be includable in all that is done.

A separate consideration which supports this same conclusion is one that was helpful to me when I was growing up, that anything can be “made fun of” or “made into a joke”. This may be something that is more obvious to someone who was skilled at making fun of things, or someone who thinks a bit more abstractly. I noticed that really any part of my life could be made fun of by someone who is really skilled at trying to ridicule me. Likewise, I could see that I could likewise make fun of anything. Having a strong conviction that this is the case, knowing it to be true, one is immediately less threatened by bullying behavior. “Great, you made that into a joke, but I know that, you can make anything into a joke, so what you were joking about, has no special status as being something to devalue me.” I used this as a child in many ways and it became an assumption within my behavior more generally.

The relevance here is that humor, when it is done in a bullying way, to ridicule, can be applied to nearly any trait that is had, or anything that is said, or any behavior. This is separate, of course, from when one is experiencing positive benefits of humor. This does not detract from the apparent pervasiveness of humor however, but adds to it. First it was said that humor seems to be involved in much that we do. Second it was argued that it can be used in application to anything we do, when it is used.

A particular form of humor has kept me from changing, for a while, this category to be more inclusive, to have words like “enjoyable”, and “fun” in the list. It seemed like there was something basic to “humor” which explained the others. Perhaps there is something common that would better be called by another name, if it is not called humor at some basic level. It seems somewhat related to the slight smile. A slight smile seems to be something that can also be applied to many things which are done, and seems included within occasions when stronger humor is exhibited. This may be a humor that is either not so strong as to be as obviously expressed or felt, or a humor that is withheld from the face, or complete usage of the facial muscles in making it visible. Sometimes I feel something of a warm humor, when I am simply doing well in an activity. Today I was boxing alone, with a bag, and doing some jumproping. I was learning new basic things I hadn’t noticed before, and felt I was doing well. I was not smiling, or making jokes, or including open playfulness. But I did feel some humor intermixed in the activity.

It is also possible to practice a slight smile which feels warm and humorous and to invoke it even in times where it may not seem applicable. One can still feel suddenly that there is some humor in what is happening.

Renewed Interest in Humor

In my life, over time, humor has oddly become somewhat absent. I think in part from less time spent with friends from youth who would encourage and expect jokes and goofy behavior, and also because of gradual communication disconnection with my ex-wife, who I was with for 19 years. Separated from my family, and divorced, and focusing more on work and friendships with colleagues and others disconnected with the silliness of my childhood, all became a bit more serious.

There was also a shift in attention to want of accomplishments and productions that would allow for lifelong ease, leisure and retirement. The change from being more humorous, and carefree, and unconcerned with occupation and completion of specific work objectives, did relate to work that I can expect and anticipate would allow for a greater amount of humor and freedom and carefree behavior than might exist if I hadn’t cared at all about certain attainments. Yet, I am not in a position now to say I have sufficiently retained or developed my humor. It exists and is pitched at times, but is not really continuous throughout the course of my days.

This was a category also placed on my log in my Personal Form, and like my section on music and art, it went years without being filled in with notes, developments or recommendations. Now that I’m revisiting this approach to self-development with these life-categories using more deliberate methods, I’ve recognized the gap and have created more priority.

For now this section is merely to indicate that I value humor greatly and think it is a worthy category for inclusion in a system for creating a holistic high-quality life.

This website is primarily for myself. Some might think that an odd use of a publication. However, journal writing is for the self, and if published, I don’t think that changes the original purpose and utility. I will keep this page updated as I have developments, and perhaps will include humorous items here that may be of special interest. But the main objective will be to use this page for me to help my own life be more humorous than it is at present, and to develop myself in a way consistent with my earlier vision of making sure to include all aspects of a good life in my regular planning and tracking.