By Nora Welch, Joining Vision and Action

This is a lighthearted post.

I know, I know. Much of what we at Joining Vision and Action (as well as you all) do is practical, thought-provoking and social-change inspiring. And this is not that … or is it?

Let me tell you two things up front.

  1. My dad was born in the upper peninsula of Michigan, also known as the U.P. For those of you who tend to say you are “out and about” with a little more “oo,” you know that people from this region are often known as UPers (or “yoopers,” phonetically).
  2. My dad was recently my mom’s full-time chauffeur, as she had broken her big toe on her right (driving) foot.

Ok, now to the story…

On a sunny day in May, in preparation for picking my mom up from work, my dad decided to have some fun. With Google and Microsoft Word as his accomplices, he created a sign for his windshield that read “Yooper” with a big “Y” on top to make sure you couldn’t miss it as he was driving by. (Picture to the right.)

Did you catch it? He isn’t an Uber driver, he’s a Yooper driver.

[insert hand-on-thigh-clapping-laughing]

All right, whether or not you think this is humorous or mildly curious—did it not bring a little levity into your life? Did you maybe, for one moment, take pause from whatever your worries of the moment were? Or best-case scenario, did laughing so heartily make you feel better? … Bueller? Bueller?

Why am I writing about this?

Because in a world where you can order a pickup anywhere via an app on your smartphone, we’re ripe to pick up compassion fatigue or just generally get bummed out about troublesome issues across the globe.

This is not to say we don’t need to be mindful of these things. Yet to be proactive in supporting these important issues and efforts, I believe we best serve with our best selves. That includes things like having great energy, expressing creativity and thinking flexibly, among many others.

Which brings me to what was so striking about this silly, “small” event. It was so doable. He had a funny idea, trusted the nudge and went for it. For the cost of a sheet of paper, I felt uplifted, connected and ready to “get back in there” just by seeing it. The concept isn’t a new one. Just ask all the people who created their six seconds of hilarity via the social video sharing app Vine, or those who watch montages of cats doing cat things. Merriment leads to better feelings, which leads to more “oomph” behind our passions and causes. That leads me to what you might call the “hypothesis” of this post.

Good humor supports great work.

If you’re in the helping profession, it can be so easy to get bogged down in your duties as an action advocate, barrier buster and community champion. To keep you sane and avoid burnout, it’s important to pair those valiant efforts with a little regenerative laughter. In case you hadn’t heard, or read the latest research, laughing is the best medicine.[1]

Even better, good humor shared with others multiplies the positive effect!

Going back to the story with my dad, can you imagine all of the people that saw him driving around with this in his window? What were they thinking? Probably some variation of “what on earth is that about?” followed by some sense of wonder, or maybe delight.

Ultimately, the five minutes’ worth of time and effort to create his joke has not only brought joy to my family, but now, through this blog post, hopefully many others.

Seriously, let’s be un-serious.

For those of you who have visited our offices and seen our wall art, you know that we believe that one person can change the world (and we’re here to help you do it.)

What if each one of us took just those five minutes to find and spread some joy, laughter and fun? What if we made it a weekly practice? A daily practice?

I think our world would be better for it, don’t you?

Having said that, I’m thinking this post isn’t light at all.

Perhaps, it is really a full-hearted post, filled with possibilities of a better tomorrow.

Thanks, Dad.