When 300 Spartans decided to defend a pass at Thermopylae against an estimated force of one million Persian soldiers they were told that the army was so vast the Persian arrows would blot out the sun.
The Spartan response was simple, "Then we shall fight in the shade."
When the Spartan king, Agesilaus, was once asked why Sparta did not have majestic walls like other Greek cities, he simply pointed to Sparta's citizens, all trained in shield, spear and sword since they were 7 years old and said, "Here are the walls of the Spartans."
And people left the unwalled Sparta alone for a quite a few centuries.
Laconic phrase was an art form. Terse, often humorous, retorts were named after Laconia, the area of Greece where the Spartans lived. Humor is an exercise in observation, assessment, perspective and summary communicated, often courageously, with wit.
Humor adds both reality and relief, observation and resolve, acknowledgment and hope.
You don't have to be a comedian entertaining the crowds or a Spartan raised in laconic phrase to understand the power of laughter, of a smile, of a well-placed phrase. And it is a superpower we must remember that we all possess.
Humor is not necessarily about being silly, it is about drawing blunt lines in charming ways.
When Abraham Lincoln, a man who battled depression and presided over the United States during an absolutely savage Civil War, was asked about slavery, he responded, "When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
Humor diffuses anger, renews spirits, and re-establishes purpose, passion, creativity and critical thought. It is an invaluable tool for re-invigorating resolve!
So how can you take a deep breath, find the humor, and strengthen your character?
1. Remember your impossibility. The universe is impossibly vast and your time here is incredibly short. That in itself is a beautiful comedy. Own your moment and share this moment with others.
2. Keep your perspective. There will always be hard times. How can you make the hard times more bearable?
3. What is going right in what is going wrong? The bad teaches you the good. Good can be found in bad. Be open. Look deeply. Share.
4. Smile. Physically wear your appreciation for this life and lesson in genuine ways. People will follow.
"Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." - Grenville Kleiser
"If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge its truth." - John Cleese
"Never, under any circumstances, take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night." - Dave Barry
Find the humor. Share the message. Save the day.