Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Laugh at life.


A gorilla, speaking with sign language, makes a joke.
We’re amazed.
She’s showing the fullest expression of a soul.

But when a person is humorless, it’s the opposite.
They’ve lost the point of life.

A recovering hospital patient makes a joke.
We’re relieved.
Not just their body, but their soul is alive.

But when a previously jovial patient loses their humor, we’re rightfully concerned.
They’re losing the spark of life.

What does this tell us?

Humor is the spirit of life — a sign of a healthy, vibrant mind and soul.

Humor means using your mind beyond necessity, beyond reality, for both noticing and imagining.
That’s why we admire a quick wit.
It shows you quickly looked at something from many angles, found the one that amused you the most, and considerately expressed it to someone else.
Observation, creativity, and empathy, all in an instant.
What could be a better sign of a healthy mind?

Think of any action movie where the hero thinks he’s got the villain trapped, but then the villain starts laughing.
What does he know that we don’t?
What unseen advantage would make him laugh when he seems to be at an end?

To laugh at something is to be superior to it.
Humor shows internal control.

Think of the comic heroes, like Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Chan, Jim Carrey, Kung Fu Panda, or Roberto Benigni in “Life Is Beautiful”.
They win by being playful, creative, adaptive, irreverent, and unbound by norms.
Those who take life too seriously are the opposite, and at a disadvantage.

No matter what you need to do, there’s a playful, creative way to do it.
Playing gives you personal autonomy and power.
When kids play make-believe, anything goes.
To play is to be free from constraints.

You can make light of anything.
Respond to life’s events however you want.
Nothing has to get you down.

A bad situation can feel all-consuming.
A laugh shows you’ve escaped.
Humor puts distance between an event and yourself.
Comedy is tragedy plus time.
Time belittles anything by showing it’s not as bad as it seemed.
Humor does that instantly.

Someone says life is hard.
The comedian says, “Compared to what?”
Comedians are philosophers.

Humor helps you see the familiar from a surprising new perspective.
It reminds you that there is no grand truth.
Any belief can be up-ended.
Every belief can be mocked.
Nobody knows anything.
Laughing is subversive.

Comedy doesn’t care what’s true, and neither should you.
Whatever makes you happy is what works.
Humor transcends reason.

Life is meaningless.
That’s what’s funny.

Besides, it makes you very appealing.
Everyone wants to be with someone who’s having more fun.

At every moment in life, choose whatever action or angle amuses you.
Laughing at life is how to live.