Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Mirthday: The Birthday Phenomenon

            For the past three years I’ve either been out of state presenting one of my humor programs or attending a conference on my birthday.  I was not pleased having to spend this special day in an unfamiliar city with a group of strangers who had no inkling that it was my special day.  So this year I decided to change all that.  Before I left town, I scheduled an alternative date to celebrate my birthday with my family and was determined to created an outrageously fun birthday for myself in spite of the situation.            
            First thing I did was to let everyone in the conference session I was attending know that it was my birthday.  Then I told them that I wanted a hug from each of them.  I not only got hugs throughout the day but throughout the conference as well.
            Later on in the day, in a crowded elevator, I announced my birthday and asked twelve total strangers to sing “Happy  Birthday ” as I exited.  What a wonderfully funny sight seeing and elevator filled with adults singing to Happy Birthday as the doors closed.
            Next, I headed to buy myself some flowers.  After I selected a stem of lilies, I asked the florist if she had a Birthday card to include with my selection.  She handed me one and then noticing how much time and care I was taking in writing the card asked, “Oh, are you buying these for someone special.”  “Yes,” I said.  “Me.”  She looked puzzled and then laughed as I wrote, “To Allen.  Happy Birthday.  I love you.”  And then I signed my name.  
            What I noticed throughout the day was that everyone I told that it was my birthday, from the hassled hotel desk clerk who gave me a bud vase for my flowers to the convenience store clerk who looked like she hadn’t smiled for years, not only willingly participated in my off-beat requests but, without an exception, immediately smiled, became friendly and a most willing participant to help me celebrate in my special day.
            Then it struck me-- I had just discovered “The Birthday Phenomenon.”  Tell someone it’s your Birthday, whether it is or not, and suddenly they cheer up.
            So, the next time you are down when out of town (or even in town for that matter) tell someone it’s your Birthday (even if it isn’t)-- and you'll create a Happy Mirthday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pennies from Heaven

When I was a kid one of my greatest joys was to find a penny on the street.  Now that I am social security age, a penny doesn't buy what it used to,  but finding one on the street still makes me happy. 

I wonder why people don’t pick pennies up these days.  Has the value of a penny become so deflated that it is more trouble to bend down to retrieve them than they are worth?

Maybe the pleasure that I get from what others ignore stems from my father telling me that found money was lucky when saved, unlucky when spent. My father would stash away every bit of currency he found in a small antique clock.  The money was frequently counted but never spent because it was good luck.

Indeed, the pennies I find on the street are good luck.  For they not only remind me of the joyful memories from days past, when a penny bought a handful of sunflower seeds from the machine outside the candy store, but perhaps more importantly, they are little lessons which teach me to be thankful for the abundance in my life, no matter how small.       

A couple of years ago, someone e-mailed me a story about found pennies. I wish I knew who wrote it because it expresses what I feel.  It read:
         I found a penny today.  Just lying on the ground. 
But it's not just a penny, this little coin I've found. 
Found pennies come from heaven, that's what my Grandpa told me. 
He said that when an Angel misses you, they toss a penny down. 
Sometimes just to cheer you up, to make a smile out of your frown. 
So, don't pass by that penny, when you're feeling blue. 
It may be a penny from heaven, that an Angel tossed to you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today's Upsets Are Tomorrow's Laughs

In looking for humor, keep in mind this guideline: Sometimes it takes a little time to see the humor in your upsets; you may not find something to laugh about immediately.

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)