Add Life to Years, Learn to Laugh

Discourse: Swami Sukhabodhananda 

Life can be a process of growing or ageing. Growing involves adding life to one’s years and ageing involves adding years to one’s life. Life is fulfilling only if it is a process of growing.

A mother persuades her son to go to school. She says “Darling, are you not ready to go to school?” The son says, “Mummy nobody at school likes me”. “But darling, you must go to school”, says the mother. “But the teachers don’t like me at school”, says the son. “But sweetheart, you are 45 years old, and you are the principal of the school. You have to go to school”. Just look — a 45-year-old man, but psychologically, he is still a child. A few people grow up in life; the rest just grow old.

Growing up in life involves adding maturity and joy to every moment in life. Without contributing to the poetry of life, nobody can be happy. Many search for happiness, but they fail to be creative, so they can’t be happy.

To be creative is a basic need for everyone. Hence, allow this force to emerge. My suggestion is, at least, start being creative by cracking jokes. When you crack a joke, more than the joke, the laughter that remains in your being is nourishing. Laughter creates a deep silence and in that silence, problems and worries dissolve. Jokes work very interestingly…, you are saying something and there is an unexpected twist in your presentation. And that creates a surprise, a new joyous feel. The art of cracking a joke is a creative art.

A seven-foot-tall man was to get married. His married friends gave him advice. They said, “Right from the first day of marriage be strict with your wife or else she will be your master”. Following the advice of his friends, on the very first night he commanded his wife, “Do you know who i am? I am a wrestler, my father was a wrestler. Tomorrow, i expect hot water for my bath at 3 a.m. or else…” The wife was scared. She got up at 2.30 a.m. and heated water for her husband. This went on every day for 10 years. Before retiring to bed he repeated “Hot water for bath… at 3 a.m. or else…” The wife got fed up and one night when he repeated the same phrase she said “Okay. Or else what will you do?” “Or else… i will have bath in cold water”, said the husband.

When you cultivate a humorous attitude to life, your childlike nature emerges. There is a child in us which wants to be free. As we grow older the child in us is suppressed and hence our playfulness also gets suppressed. Joy of life disappears when we lose ourselves in seriousness.

One of the greatest secrets of life is that we are all born rich but become beggars. We don’t search within ourselves for the treasures we hold within. We don’t know ourselves. Socrates said, “Know thyself ”. The Vedas say, ‘Know thyself’.

We take ourselves for granted. We think we know ourselves and this is most foolish. We become insensate with the ignorance of what or who we are. And this kills the joy of living. Many of us are indifferent to our real selves.

Knowing ourselves is just not seeing ourselves as physical embodiments. The body is the peripheral — ‘Me’. But the ‘I’ that is ‘self’ is not the peripheral, ‘Me’. The deeper ‘Me’ is the soul, which is beyond the body and mind. This can be discovered through understanding, reflection and meditation.

  1. June 16, 2007 at 8:54 am

    very true

  2. kim
    August 12, 2007 at 4:50 am

    i like this.

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