GOING to work on the bus one morning, you are weighed down by the mental burden of the huge borrowings you did last week.
The money is due with interest the day after tomorrow and counting your salary against the money you owe you can already see that you will need to borrow again.
You think to yourself: “Will I ever get out of this rat hole?”
Suddenly, the radio announcer breaks into your reverie.
“Have you heard the one about the Sepik and the Samarai and the Kerema …”
Of course you have heard it but your ears prick up because you wonder whether a new variation has come up to the one that ends with “… hook where … hook … where”.
It is the same old story again but after the overused punch line comes on, you allow yourself a small smile.
You imagine the Sepik fish, with the tail and scales of a fish but the head of a Sepik man – glancing around wide-eyed and making the most ridiculous call on the planet – for a hook to attach itself to its mouth because there are just too many of them in the water, it is tired of living.
You actually break into a laugh. You have created the new variation you were looking for in your own mind.
In the space of 60 seconds, humour – however overused – has lifted you up out of the doldrums. It lifts your spirit and your outlook on life improves.
When you next think back to your debt problem you begin to see ways out of it.
You think about the bottles the children have been collecting and the small vegetable plot that the missus has been talking about growing in the back yard to supplement the diet. You could kick the buai or the cigarette – one of them – for a week. And so on and so forth.
“Laughter”, as the Reader’s Digest column goes, “is the best medicine.”
It is indeed for it costs nothing and it can lift you up out of near suicidal moods.
With humour, we lighten up each day, and we find common ground with others. We mend or build relationships.
As Leslie Rose Seminars wrote in Humour: The Spice of Life: “Humour often takes us to the edge of uncertainty when we exaggerate, or tease others to make our point. When humour is successful, we build trust and cooperation.
“We discover that we are not alone, we learn to accept our mistakes, and we look for the good in others and in ourselves. Most important, we create common ground.
“However, when we lose our sense of humour, we often get critical or defensive, and we blame others or ourselves for what was said, and how it was said.
“Humour is an essential skill needed to communicate well with others.
“A few well chosen words get the attention of others and make a serious point without their getting defensive.
“Whether we prefer to be the centre of attention or shy and quiet, humour can be adjusted to suit our personality.”
We in PNG take life so seriously.
Life is so serious, we say.
We make it so.
It is so hard, we say
It might or it might not be but we make it so.
It is not fair, we mutter.
But it can be fair.
And merry, and witty, and fulfilling.
Yes, eking out a living from the granite-like surface of PNG’s socio-economic landscape can be fun.
We can make it so – with the stress on the WE.
We need not go around with our heads bowed and our backs bent double by psychological rather than physical weights.
We need to let frowns arrive in their time, never by bringing them on early by too much worry.
Life is not so much an expenditure item, it always has its share of income items as well, if only we will look to balance income with expenses.
By adjusting our outlook on life, by tuning our mental attitude from negative to positive, we can do ourselves a whole lot of good.
When we see the glass as half full rather than half empty, we switch from a negative outlook to a positive outlook on life.
Such a switch, small as it might seem, can have a huge impact.
We bring on our misfortunes as we do our fortunes and most of them are created in the mind, not our actual circumstances.
We need fun and humour just as we need sleep in our daily lives.