Having a sense of humor is a trait not many are able to
master. Because it requires intelligence to be able to spark a wit with effect
at the right time.
People with a sense of humor are the ones you see laughing
most often, even if only by themselves.
They are the ones with the greatest self-acceptance, because
they have come to terms with who they are and what life has handed to them, and
are brave enough to not only overcome the challenges but even to make fun of
They are creative – after all, it takes a lot of mental
energy to come up with quick-witted jokes that put a smile on everyone else’s
face. It is thus also associated with wisdom and love of learning.
People with humor understand the difference between laughing
at someone and with them. They are conscientious in that they don’t need to hurt
anyone’s feelings in order to make a joke.
Laughing is a state of life and it also keeps you fit physically
It could be true that “a
sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration” (Rick Warren).
Humor is one of our fundamental character strengths and an
important survival tool. It helps gain intimacy, build connections and often
buffer stress. But it is also what helps us remain optimistic. And like Elbert
Hubbard said, “do not take life too
seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive”.
Women are like cats. They like attention but not too much
and on their terms, are independent and self-sustainable, move around a room
like they own it, like to sleep as much as possible, like to cuddle but only
when they want to, and can disappear for hours doing their own thing with no-one
really knowing what that is.
Women are like cats in that they can claw their way out of a
fight, just as easily as they can start one.
But most of all, they are like cats in the sense that they
can reciprocate the love you show them and be the source of your serenity.
Charity was the most cat-like girl Jessop had ever met. He
could almost swear to hear her purr when she fell asleep in his arms. She
fought for her autonomy and demonstrated that she could handle her affairs on
her own. But every now and again she would crawl to his side and press into his
chest for a tight hug, something that would make all the troubles she didn’t
share just go away.
Jessop liked that she was dynamic and feisty. But he loved
it more when she became the vulnerable, chirpy girl he fell in love with. After
all, every man adores being the protector of his girl.
But over the past weeks, something happened. It was as if
the cat inside her curled up and hid from the world. She wouldn’t talk much,
her smile had faded and she barely ate. She wouldn’t respond to his questions,
even getting agitated by them and would retreat to her bed, sleeping more than
the usual hours.
One morning, Jessop woke up to find a note on his bedstand:
“If I show you I need
you, take it seriously. It means more than just the words you understand. I do
whatever I can to never have to depend on anyone, to avoid showing weakness and
fear. But if I tell you I need you by my side, it means I am trusting you to catch
me when I fall”.
The note was stained with droplets of tears.
Jessop sprung out of bed, got dressed and left.
He knew where she was. Cats always have a safe place.
Somewhere they think no-one knows about, but if you follow them closely they’ll
let you find them.
It was snowing when he set foot outdoors. If it was up to
him, he wouldn’t have, but his mother forced him to go out in search of the
required groceries for lunch. He was the sort of person who always found
excuses not to do something. He would constantly say he wanted to but it was simply not possible because of a series of pretexts
he would cough up at the moment.
Procrastinating was Tommy’s expertise. But as he matured, he
found that there were things you could simply not postpone. And the less you
did, the more reliable you would become and the better status you would obtain
as a person and as a character.
But the most memorable lesson, he learnt in a cabin in the
woods that day he went off-track.
It was a wooden cabin below the snowy mountains. Adjacent
was a lake in which two magnificent swans were found. It seemed almost mythical.
He approached in hope it would offer solace from the extreme cold.
Above the front door there was a sign that read “When there’s a will there’s a way, when
there’s none there’s delay”. He
knocked on the door and waited. Then he knocked again. There was no response.
After a while, as his hands began to turn numb from the
cold, he decided to search for a back door.
There was one with an “entry”
Inside was a carpenter. One of the type he had only read
about in storybooks.
“It took you long
enough,” he told Tommy as he led him to a seat near the blaring fireplace
and offered him a cup of steaming hot tea.
“Had you figured out
the meaning of the sign sooner, your hands wouldn’t have turned so pale from
the frostbite,” the carpenter explained.
“Simply stating your
desire or intention to do something does not make it real. It’s when you act
upon it that it happens. And that is what matters. Because others can’t see
your intentions, they can only judge you by your actions”.
Tommy was beginning to understand. This meeting was not by
chance. In fact, he had never seen this cabin in this part of the valley
“Stop denying the fact
that you’re delaying things. Or simply not doing them. The time to act is now,
not later. You don’t know what will happen later on. If you can do something
now, why are you waiting? What for? There is always time to do something
important. To show others you care. If
you can act, and if you’re going to use your intention in your defence later
on, why procrastinate? If it is significant, you do it. That is what others
will see. And what matters most, is what you show”.
Tommy drank his last sip and was ready to leave.
There was nothing he could say. After all, this meeting was
not for him to speak, but to listen.
“Character is built on
the strength of your actions”, he heard the carpenter say as he waved him
He was nicknamed “The Monster”. He had the look to support it. He was tall, dark with hair that covered his neck and a beard that hid his face. His eyes reflected his own resignation with the world.
He preferred not to socialise as much as possible. And for that reason he usually only briefly left his house during nights or moments when he knew everyone else was away. He wanted to avoid social contact. He would much rather endure loneliness than the criticism he was bound to hear from others.
People judge from what they see. We all fall into stereotypes and prejudices. People don’t understand what is beyond appearances.What forces people to become what they are or to act in the way they do.
No existence is all roses and sunshine. Dark clouds do come along. There are moments and circumstances, people and behaviours, attitudes and perspectives that force us to react, to erupt, to lose control. It takes a lot for a silent stream to become a raging current. But when that boost arrives, the flush is torrential and it carries with it everything that person has for so long suppressed. It takes a lot of strength to feign that everything is fine. To pretend things are OK when they’re not. To hide all the pain from everyone else. But what hurts most is when the people near you don’t understand. When they do not react to your call. When you explain the things that cause these scathing wounds, that have for so long been a problem, and yet they still don’t comprehend the severity of it all. Or they simply do nothing. If you care you act; you place what you value most above all else. Sometimes, it is our own expectations that cause us the most disappointment. Because not everyone possesses that same open-heartedness, nor the same perspective on things. It is such situations that bring out the worst in someone. That feeling of being under-appreciated, misunderstood and wronged. That others are given more importance than you. That no matter how hard you try, you can’t get through.
It is situations that create our character. That will define whether the monster or the angel within us will dominate. But they are also the ones that cause us to react the way we do.
Not all people are monsters. Some just carry a monster inside.
She would often wander in a world no-one could understand. The real world made no sense anymore. She would retreat in the attic and later in the bedroom or living room. She would watch the time run by as she lost herself in books or let her mind gaze at TV series. She didn’t care anymore if she was alone. Now, it was something she actually looked forward to.
In the cold winter days, she would sit on a couch wrapped in a warm blanket with the company of her fluffy soft-toys. In their big glimmering eyes, she would find comfort. In there, she saw the reflection of who she wanted to be; who she was striving to become; who few would appreciate or, even more, understand.
Perhaps that was what was most disappointing. That no matter how much she explained her point of view, hardly anyone would see it. It is easy to put the blame for everything on someone else; it is even easier to dismiss all their views as wrong simply because they don’t agree with yours.People only listen to what they want to hear. And whatever you say, they will only focus on what they think is important, rendering everything else unsaid. She was tired of having to repeat herself so often, and not being heard. She was not understood. And that was perhaps worse than not being appreciated.
So, she drifted away. She had grown weary of trying to change a world that so adamantly refused to do so. She stopped insisting. Her grandfather once told her that people should fear a woman’s silence, for a woman who stops moaning and more so talking is one who has simply given up. A woman’s silence is her loudest cry. But few can truly realise that. Even fewer are bold enough to do something about it.
It’s easy to keep demanding that everyone else changes. The real courage is to admit that you need to change too. And to do it.
What if you woke up one day and found someone had stolen
your identity? How could you prove you were who you say you are? What truly
Yes, sounds familiar. If you’ve seen Unknown, the scenario reminds
you of this.
But think about it. How would you describe yourself? Don’t
think professionally, so no CV references and all that. Think adjectives. What
makes you stand out from the crowd?
How are you different from every
other person on this planet?
Whether we like it or not, we are different because of what
we experience, but more so, because of what we feel.
We may not want to pose this question – of what makes you
you – to other people, out of fear of what they may say. Some people worry
about what others think of them. What they truly
and sincerely believe, not merely what they show. Because all of us have an
opinion about others. It is formed from the very first time we meet the other
person and it evolves according to the development of our relationship.
So, others can speak of you, even if you don’t want to.
But how do you describe yourself? And not in that
narcissistic sense where you see everything on you as close to perfect.
What distinguishes you? What makes you worth the meet?
And deeper of all – how would you defend yourself against
someone who had stolen your identity?
“We live in a world
full of people who are satisfied with pretending to be someone they are not” –
“Unless we base our
sense of identity upon the truth of who we are, it is impossible to attain true
happiness” – Brenda Shoshanna
“Wait, let’s consider it for a minute”. “No, you think too much”. “The problem is you think too little”.
Let’ face it: we’ve all had a similar conversation with a member of the opposite sex. Because whether we like it or not, men and women think differently. No matter how much we fight and rally for equal rights, structurally, the two genders are built to operate differently.
Men, for example, may be seen as insensitive at times, as rational and the beings who don’t really care about trivial stuff. What is considered “trivial” of course – just like everything else – is a matter of perspective. They are the ones, however, who can shut things out, who can turn their thoughts and concerns off for a moment and actually relax. They are the ones who when asked, “what are you thinking about”, may very well literally mean the “nothing” they reply.
Women are not like that. Their mind is not divided into boxes. And it is never ever at rest. Rather, it is a complicated amalgamation of a million thoughts and things-to-do all at once. To men this seems like a mess. But women are often considered the more organised sex, the ones who can have everything clean and tidy in no time, while also tending to a few other chores simultaneously. But they are also the ones who – reportedly – tend to nag a lot. Mainly because they think a lot and care too deeply about pretty much everything. To them literally everything means something. Words matter and so does body language. Men feel they are walking on broken glass near women. Women believe men who don’t talk or react have something to hide.
Our minds are created differently. That is why we operate at varying levels. We perceive things differently and understand our reality in alternate ways.
Women often get frustrated because men don’t understand them, and because they cannot comprehend why men can’t operate on their level – that of common sense. Men get irritated with all the shouting, which they believe is for no rational reason, and they cannot fathom why women get upset so easily and rapidly over anything and everything.
It would be boring if we were all the same.
But we need to accept each other’s differences and the fact that we are structurally made this way. We are supposed to complete each other, aid one another and make ourselves better.
Whatever else we wonder – like, why men don’t listen and women talk too much – will always remain unanswered questions.
It was the first thing Joan saw when she walked through the halls of her new school. Her age was not even a double digit then. But she remembered everything clearly. The memories had imprinted in her mind just as everything she learnt there grew in her heart.
She was grateful for the life she had in that building. Not only of the things she learnt in theory and in practice, but also for the people she met there. Those that stigmatised her for their positive vibes but also for the heartbreak their meanness had caused. Everyone had a place and a reason.
And everything served to make her stronger, braver and more determined.
She matured and grew to a better person when it was time to leave.
She was different when she walked out of the halls. Not even recognising herself and who she had become, she was proud she had survived.
The scars only served to remind her of all that had come in her life and the fact that she had managed to overcome all the obstacles and challenges that tried to bring her down.
She was still here. And she was resolute in making her presence even more prominent in the future. No matter what lay ahead.
Patricia was a push-over. She was the kind of person who would allow others to dictate her will, simply because she was too afraid to say anything. She was small-structured and timid, but had a smile that could light up an entire room. She feared not being liked, and that led to her being unable to say “no” even to things she did not want or believe. For her, that was her vice.
As experiences mounted on her shoulder, she began to see that for a person to survive in this world, one needs to be able to refuse certain things. To know when to appear decisive and stubborn, even at the expense of someone else’s judgement at that moment.
But she still had difficulty realising that very acknowledgement. And she kept falling into the trap. Because even though she could see that these were the wrong choices to make, the ones that would lead to more trouble in the end, she made them anyway.
Not everything makes sense. Not everything has to. But certain things make you look back in regret and remorse at not being smarter sooner.
Patricia realised it when she met a handsome lawyer on the bus one day. He was exactly what she wasn’t: confident, decisive, at times even arrogant due to his obstinate nature. But she fell for him. And she found out that when you love, you sometimes lose control. That is when she understood that in life we need a balance. We need to be able to view our actions pre-emptively, taking into account their impact and consequences.
We sometimes make the wrong choices only to fully comprehend the magnitude of making the right ones when the time comes.
A person very dear to me recently told me how wonderfully I’ve matured over the past few years. I don’t like the feeling of growing older, to be honest. But I do enjoy the experiences and the adventures of a time well-spent and a life enjoyed to the fullest. And knowing that all that brings out the best in you, is a feeling like no other.
You mature through the life lessons you learn. Through the times you fall down and get hurt, and the corresponding more that you get up and continue. Through all those instances you survive, no matter how hard it seemed at the time.
You grow up not when you reach a certain age. But when you become independent enough to be able to cope on your own. To be capable of facing crises without panicking, freezing and needing to call for help. It happens when you develop the necessary attitude to face the world.
Maturity, it is said, is not when we start speaking big things…it is when we start understanding small things. It’s learning which battles are worth fighting, and realizing that many things don’t require your comment. It’s feeling content with simply knowing you’re right about something, without needing to prove someone else wrong. And it’s in feeling well and sure about yourself despite everything else.
Like another dear friend pointed out, Shakespeare was right about one thing we should all stick to above all: “to thine own self be true”. Always. Knowing that this is what matters more than what other people think, is evidence enough that you have reached that other level.