This morning I needed a little perspective. I decided to borrow Abraham Lincoln’s. No matter what my day brings, it probably won’t end up with me in charge of a nation at war with itself.

You’re relieved too, right?

Lincoln was able to keep his sanity and his humor in the midst of this country’s darkest days. While his great speeches and character are inspiring, I find his humor the most fascinating.

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
― Abraham Lincoln

We tend to separate greatness and laughter but Lincoln could not live without it.

On another occasion the President prefaced a discussion of the draft Emancipation Proclamation by reading aloud from a favorite humorist. In response to the disapproval of some members of his cabinet, Mr. Lincoln said: “Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.”

As his reputation as a storyteller and jokester grew, many people were offended by his lack of seriousness.

“No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens. ”
― Abraham Lincoln

His opponents were most often flummoxed by his dazzling delivery, for which they could find no defense. Lincoln told this story when complaints against him grew loud.

“A frontiersman lost his way in an uninhabited region on a dark and tempestuous night. The rain fell in torrents, accompanied by terrible thunder and more terrific lightning. To increase his trouble his horse halted, being exhausted with fatigue and fright. Presently a bolt of lightning struck a neighboring tree, and the crash brought the man to his knees. He was not an expert in prayer, but his appeal was short and to the point: ‘Oh, good Lord, if it is all the same to you, give us a little more light, and a little less noise.”

I recently read the conclusions of a doctoral thesis on happiness that I’ve found referenced in no less than four other books. The scientific detail and technical language of an involved neurological study reveal the same conclusion Abe reached a century earlier:

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln

For references to the above and more Lincoln humor CLICK HERE.

Photo: The last high-quality photograph of Lincoln taken March 1865.