H. G. Wells once said, "The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow." Some of our most trying moments turn into laughing matter when we look back at them. Things that seemed unbearable at one time often turn out, in hindsight, to somehow have humor in them after all.
Erma Bombeck, the First Lady of household comedy, admits that it often takes a second glance at our problems before we see the humor in them. "I can't tell you how many times I've slammed the doors and thrown myself on the bed," she relates, "and I'm calling convents at two in the morning and saying, 'Take me, please.' It's only in retrospect that it has any humor whatsoever."
Bombeck elaborates on this in an interview in USA Today. "When I had a cold it was absolutely tragic. I knew I was going to the big utility room in the sky. I got so sick of seeing this woman on television saying, 'Don't hate me for being beautiful.' You feel so ugly when you have a cold—your nose is running, your hair won't curl. But today it seems ridiculous. You need that time span to get a perspective."
Sometimes it takes ten seconds to see some humor in your dilemmas, sometimes ten years. The gap between your upset and the period when humor becomes obvious varies greatly, but you can shorten the gap. The next time you find yourself in a troublesome situation, stop for a moment and ask yourself what will it look like in a month, in six months, in a year, or when you are eighty-five. If you can remember to say "Some day I might laugh at this," you will be closer to doing so.
(Excerpted from The Healing Power of Humor, Tarcher/Putnam, Inc., 1989, by Allen Klein)