Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Laughter

"Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus it may be looked on as weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits, with transient, unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life." - Joseph Addison

"Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter." - Joseph Addison

"Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place." - Josh Billings, pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw, aka Uncle Esek

"Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God." - Karl Barth

"Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"Laughter or crying is what a human being does when there is nothing left he can do." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." -

"Laughter is a powerful way to tap positive emotions." - Norman Cousins

"Laughter is inner jogging." - Norman Cousins

"As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits, which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Humor is a prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer." - Reinhold Niebuhr, fully Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge; that myth is more potent than history. I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts; that hope always triumphs over experience; that laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe love is stronger than death." - Robert Fulghum, fully Robert Lee Fulghum

"Doing a straight-forward, clear-cut task that has a beginning and an end balances out the complexity-without-end that often vexes the rest of my life. Sacred simplicity." - Robert Fulghum, fully Robert Lee Fulghum

"How inevitably does an immoderate laughter end in a sigh!" -

"True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart; it is not contempt; its essence is love: it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper. It is a sort of inverse sublimity, exalting as it were, into our affections what is below us, while sublimity draws down into our affections what is above us." - Thomas Carlyle

"True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart. It is not contempt; its essence is love. It issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper." - Thomas Carlyle

"In laughter there is always a kind of joyousness that is incompatible with contempt or indignation." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either. " -

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. " - e. e. cummings, fully Edward Estlin Cummings

"If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that--warm things, kind things, sweet things--help and comfort and laughter--and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all." - Frances Hodgson Burnett, fully Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett

"From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends. " - Hilaire Belloc, fully Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc

"Laughter is spiritual health. And laughter is very unburdening. While you laugh, you can put your mind aside very easily. " - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"My approach towards life is that of laughter. And laughter contains love, laughter contains joy and laughter contains gratitude. Laughter contains a tremendous thankfulness towards God." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"There is nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends. " - James Boswell

"Give humanity hope and it will dare and suffer joyfully, not counting the cost -- hope with laughter on her banner and on her face the fresh beauty of morning. " - John Elof Boodin

"While the laughter of joy is in full harmony with our deeper life, the laughter of amusement should be kept apart from it. The danger is too great of thus learning to look at solemn things in a spirit of mockery, and to seek in them opportunities for exercising wit." - Lewis Carroll, pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

"While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name." - M. C. Swabey, fully Marie Taylor Collins Swabey

"The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation." - Martin Esslin, fully Martin Julius Esslin

"May your walls know joy; may every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility." - Mary Anne Radmacher

"Looking for and enjoying beauty is a way to nourish the soul. the universe is in the habit of making beauty. There are flowers and songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between friends, a job well done, the smell of fresh-baked bread. Beauty is everywhere. " - Matthew Fox

"Laughter, whether reconciled or terrible, always accompanies the moment when a fear is ended. It indicates a release, whether from physical danger or from the grip of logic. Reconciled laughter resounds with an echo of esc ape from power; wrong laughter copes with fear by defecting the agencies which inspire it…In wrong society laughter is a sickness infecting happiness and drawing into societie’s worthless totality…What is infernal about wrong laughter is that it compellingly parodies what is best…The culture industry replaces pain, which is present in ecstacy no less than in asceticism, with jovial denial. Its supreme law is that its consumers shall at no price be given what they desire." - Max Horkheimer

"An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy." - Madeleine L’Engle

"The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness." - Milan Kundera

"He who flatters with laughter wants to see you cry." - Moroccan Proverbs

"I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone." - Nikolai Gogol, fully Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol or Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol

"Happy the writer who, passing by characters that are boring, disgusting, shocking in their mournful reality, approaches characters that manifest the lofty dignity of man, who from the great pool of daily whirling images has chosen only the rare exceptions, who has never once betrayed the exalted turning of his lyre, nor descended from his height to his poor, insignificant brethren, and, without touching the ground, has given the whole of himself to his elevated images so far removed from it. Twice enviable is his beautiful lot: he is among them as in his own family; and meanwhile his fame spreads loud and far. With entrancing smoke he has clouded people's eyes; he has flattered them wondrously, concealing what is mournful in life, showing them a beautiful man. Everything rushes after him, applauding, and flies off following his triumphal chariot. Great world poet they name him, soaring high above all other geniuses in the world, as the eagle soars above the other high fliers. At the mere mention of his name, young ardent hearts are filled with trembling, responsive tears shine in all eyes...No one equals him in power--he is God! But such is not the lot, and other is the destiny of the writer who has dared to call forth all that is before our eyes every moment and which our indifferent eyes do not see--all the stupendous mire of trivia in which our life in entangled, the whole depth of cold, fragmented, everyday characters that swarm over our often bitter and boring earthly path, and with the firm strength of his implacable chisel dares to present them roundly and vividly before the eyes of all people! It is not for him to win people's applause, not for him to behold the grateful tears and unanimous rapture of the souls he has stirred; no sixteen-year-old girl will come flying to meet him with her head in a whirl and heroic enthusiasm; it is not for him to forget himself in the sweet enchantment of sounds he himself has evoked; it is not for him, finally, to escape contemporary judgment, hypocritically callous contemporary judgment, which will call insignificant and mean the creations he has fostered, will allot him a contemptible corner in the ranks of writers who insult mankind, will ascribe to him the quality of the heroes he has portrayed, will deny him heart, and soul, and the divine flame of talent. For contemporary judgment does not recognize that equally wondrous are the glasses that observe the sun and those that look at the movement of inconspicuous insect; for contemporary judgment does not recognize that much depth of soul is needed to light up the picture drawn from contemptible life and elevate it into a pearl of creation; for contemporary judgment does not recognize that lofty ecstatic laughter is worthy to stand beside the lofty lyrical impulse, and that a whole abyss separates it from the antics of the street-fair clown! This contemporary judgment does not recognize; and will turn it all into a reproach and abuse of the unrecognized writer; with no sharing, no response, no sympathy, like a familyless wayfarer, he will be left alone in the middle of the road. Grim is his path, and bitterly he will feel his solitude." - Nikolai Gogol, fully Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol or Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol

"We look before and after, And pine for what is not: Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought… Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow The world should listen then — as I am listening now." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Where there is laughter there is always more health than sickness." - Phyllis Bottome, aka Phyllis Forbes Dennis (married name)

"Besides its precious work, which makes the eye superior to every other organ of the body, it is the expression of the beauty of body, mind and soul. Sufis, therefore, symbolize the eye by a cup of wine. Through the eyes, the secret hidden in man's heart is reflected into the heart of another. However much a person may try to conceal his secret, yet the reader can read it in his eyes, and can read there his pleasure, his displeasure, his joy, and his sorrow. A seer can see still farther. The seer can see the actual condition of man's soul through his eyes, his grade of evolution, his attitude in life, his outlook on life, and his condition, both hidden and manifest. Besides, to the passive soul of a disciple, knowledge, ecstasy, spiritual joy, and divine peace, all are given through the glance. One sees in everyday life that a person who is laughing in his mind with his lips closed can express his laughter through his glance, and the one who receives the glance at once catches the infectious mirth. Often the same happens through looking in the eyes of the sorrowful, in a moment one becomes filled with depression. And those whose secret is God, whose contemplation is the perfection of beauty, whose joy is endless in the realization of everlasting life, and from whose heart the spring of love is ever flowing, it is most appropriate that their glance should be called, symbolically, the Bowl of Saki, the Bowl of the Wine-Giver." - Inayat Khan, aka Hazrat Inayat Khan, fully Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

"In the inner life the greatest principle that one should observe is to beunassuming, quiet, without any show of wisdom, without any manifestation of learning, without any desire to let anyone know how farone has advanced, not even letting oneself know how far one has gone. The task to be accomplished is the entire forgetting of oneself andharmonizing with one’s fellowman; acting in agreement with all, meeting everyone on his own plane, speaking to everyone in his own tongue,answering the laughter of one’s friends with a smile, and the pain of another with tears, standing by one’s friends in their joy and their sorrow, whatever be one’s own grade of evolution." - Inayat Khan, aka Hazrat Inayat Khan, fully Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

"That laughter costs too much which is purchased by the sacrifice of decency." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"The weeping of an heir is laughter in disguise." - Publius Syrus

"That so much time was wasted in this pain. Ten thousand years ago he might have let off down To not return again! A dreadful laugh at last escapes his lips; The laughter sets him free. A Fool lives in the Universe! he cries. The Fool is me! And with one final shake of laughter Breaks his bonds" - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"At the top of a hill our automobile stuck in a snowdrift. Peasants ran out of a cottage nearby, shouting with laughter because machinery had made a fool of itself, and dug out the automobile with incredible rapidity. They were doubtless anxious to get back and tell a horse about it." - Rebecca West, pen name of Mrs. Cicily Maxwell Andrews, born Fairfield, aka Dame Rebecca West

"I live by this credo: Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter had always brought me out of unhappy situations. Even in your darkest moment, you usually can find something to laugh about if you try hard enough." - Red Skelton, fully Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton

"Live by this credo: have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations." - Red Skelton, fully Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton