With my two feet “firmly planted on the ground,” I found I couldn’t get my pants on! With my feet in the air, it’s easier now! (LEO BUSCAGLIA)

With my two feet “firmly planted on the ground,” I found I couldn’t get my pants on! With my feet in the air, it’s easier now! (LEO BUSCAGLIA)

What I’m saying is that nothing but life itself is necessary for humans to know joy and happiness.

I constantly had this affirmed in my work with handicapped individuals. I saw quadriplegics who smiled and laughed their way through life, while those working with them, with every physical advantage, were often miserable, unsatisfied and depressed. It is strange that some of the happiest people I have ever known were those who seemed to have no particular cause to rejoice. They were simply happy. They seemed to have in common a singular courage, a willingness to risk, to fail and to let go, a belief in themselves, a wonderful resourcefulness, a trust in their creative uniqueness and an ability to hold on to their dream.

Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it. Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally. “Make it the object of pursuit,” he stated, “and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained.” He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated. In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.

Only truth can bring us the necessary trust needed for long-lasting relationships. Only truth, painful though it may sometimes be, can create a safe environment of unity and growth. Certainly, truth with a capital “T” is difficult. Still it is at the core of a loving relationship. Trust is impossible without it. Where there is no trust there can be no love.

So, to lie or not to lie? Dr. Roger Gould says in Transformations:

The truth, as best as we know it, must be our goal, no matter where it leads us. Every self-deception causes erroneous judgments, and bad decisions follow, with unforeseen consequences to our lives. But more than that, every protective self-deception is a crevice in our psyche with a little demon lurking in it ready to become an episode of unexplained anxiety when life threatens. The self-deceptions which are designed to protect us from pain actually end up delivering more pain. We fortify our deceptions to protect them from the natural corrections of daily life. pThe larger the area of our mind we find it necessary to defend, the more our thinking processes will suffer, we will not allow our mind to roam freely because new information might contradict our self-deceptions. The larger the self-deceptions, the larger the section of the world we are excluded from.

On the other hand, in one of the most definitive works on lying, The Right to Lie, the authors, Robert Wolk and Arthur Henley remark:

A successful marriage is the product of lies as well as love. Although the partners’ emotions and attitudes may complement each other well, they are two separate people and their feelings cannot possibly coincide all the time. A policy of total honesty would make them blurt out truths that could be needlessly hurtful or perhaps just untimely. This could wreck the delicate balance of give-and-take so necessary between husband and wife. Constructive, competent and considerate lies can have a mutually protective effect and prevent the partners from stepping on each other’s toes. That is why good lying makes good marriage.

In another place these authors state, “The family that lies together stays together.” They are, of course, not speaking of life-destructive untruths, but the day-to-day dishonesty that may protect the relationship from constant trauma. They add:

The only lie worth telling is an untruth that might alter a situation for the better. It must be justifiable, technically proficient, and appropriate to the occasion. To arrive at a sound decision about a lie, a would-be liar should weigh the possible benefits against the possible risks, a process somewhat akin to playing “truth or consequences” by oneself.

We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable. We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk — an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder. Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely. A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy. When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does. We speak a universal language. We feel closer to one another.

Joy, humor, laughter — all are wonderful, easily accessible tools for bringing comfort into a relationship. They can be used to overcome inhibitions and tension. Dr. William Fry of Stanford University has just recently reported that laughter aids digestion (give up your antacids), stimulates the heart and strengthens muscles (give up jogging), and activates the brain’s creative function and keeps you alert (give up artificial stimulants). All this with a good guffaw.

Joy and happiness are simply states of mind. As such they can help us to find creative solutions. When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions. When one laughs, the body secretes a special hormone that is a natural painkiller. Norman Cousins claims to have cured himself of a terminal illness with, among other things, the power of laughter. Good uproarious laughter of the roll-in-the-aisle type, causes all the vital organs to vibrate and jostle, much like what happens to us when we jog. So, if we are too lazy to jog, we can laugh our way to health! Throw out the aspirin and giggle away despair.

For years, I had been told that I was taking life too casually, that my attitude would surely lead me to wrack and ruin. A man of my professional background should be an example — firm, serious, with his “feet planted firmly on the ground.” With my two feet “firmly planted on the ground,” I found I couldn’t get my pants on! With my feet in the air, it’s easier now!

“Joy comes in our lives,” Joseph Addison says, “when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Live fully and with abandon. Love totally and without fear. Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream. These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Many a relationship has been saved by a good belly laugh.






Loving Each Other
Leo Buscaglia



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