I decided I would write a random life/philosophy post, because why not? I think everyone should have/ already does have some sort of guiding philosophy whether they know it or not. They may not be able to express it clearly, but there is definitely some sort of maxim they abide by. In fact, it needn’t even be permanent at any given moment. Even the world’s greatest thinkers needed multiple brain dumps and write ups before they came to their final manifesto.
And so with that, I will write mine fairly simply: You should try to make one person laugh a day.
I say it tongue-in-cheek, and truthfully most great theories are hard to sum up in a nuanced way in just a sentence, so I’m going to pretend I’m famous and important and continue. Essentially I believe in karma. I’m not Buddhist. I’m not Hindu. I don’t believe that there are karmic bonds that constitute the fabric of our very universe.
This isn’t a religious or cosmological construct for me. It’s about morality.
Now I understand it’s difficult to link humor and karma, so I will attempt to explain. The idea of karma is that bad actions, even small ones can come back to haunt you years later, in lifetimes from now, eons from now. Good actions begets good results. In fact, even in Chinese karma can be translated as cause-effect. 因果. Very simple in idea, but integral to many belief systems.
In Christianity and Confucianism, there’s certainly a Golden Rule: do/don’t to others what you (don’t) want done to you. But this says nothing to reciprocity. Karma suggests that ill will may be done unto you, given you being a dick to someone else. (I think I bastardized the religion a shade there.)
I believe in rules for karma, not dictated by Shiva or by mystic laws of the universe or even by a book. I believe in rules for karma simply as a man on this Earth. I believe in the rules as dictated by society. It’s quite simple my theory, really.
If you’re happy, you will probably/hopefully make someone else happy. And if they are happy, they will most likely make someone else happy. Is this watertight logic. Absolutely not. But in general it’s easy to see that if the quantity of happy people out there is higher, it can lead to even more happier people. If you have a bunch of angry, grumpas out there (grandpa + grumpy) well, we’ll have a bunch of Negative Nancies. (And thus with the construction of that last sentence, my budding yet sluggish career in writing is finished.)
This logic is riddled with holes. First what does it even mean to be happy? Years ago, TIME Magazine produced an issue on the pursuit of happiness, as our forefathers advocated for. And they suggest that happiness in 18th century America wasn’t necessary about smiling and playing GTA 5 in your friend’s basement. It was about well-being, and being able to function safely and happily within a society. It wasn’t about excessive wealth, but being content and secure.
Certainly one man’s happiness can adversely affect another’s. I don’t think all forms of happiness are created equal. Nihilism goes great lengths to show this. As the 1% showed us, their wealth doesn’t necessarily lead either to their happiness or to the rest of the nation. (Cursory example.) If you’re a psychopath, there’s a myriad of actions that may render you happy, but not others.
And what do I mean by make everyone laugh once a day? Surely not everyone is funny. Late night “comedians” prove this on a nightly basis. My sarcasm is either construed as witty or condescending. Those in the former camp may laugh and thus be happy. Those in the latter may despise my guts. Sure maybe we don’t have to make everyone laugh, but make them smile. Or at least make them feed good.
And certainly not everyone can subscribe to a philosophy. That’s what makes us collectively humankind and individually human. We’re all different. Certainly I don’t always adhere to my own karmic values, but we all make mistakes. In general, if we seek the happiness and the laughter of others (as well as ourselves) we will generally have a happier populace.
And it’s in this way that karma is fully entrenched in my belief system.