The tenth step of humility is that we are not given to ready laughter, for it is written: “Only fools raise their voices in laughter” (Sir. 21:23).

There is humour that smiles kindly at the condition of the world, chuckling with it. This kind of humour is not cruel; it is a humour that rises from the graced impermanence of the human condition. Hope has been found in this condition and this humour is immersed in it. The Dalai Lama is someone of this smiling, somewhat crazy, humour. His humour is not vindictive. Humour like this is grounded, giving a kind of ‘wise fool’ insight into life; it has been humbled.

A good sense of humour is not prone to vulgarity and smart-aleckness. A good sense of humour is discerning and aware of how untethered humour can use, hurt, and isolate others. Laughter that is unthinking, too readily given, can betray a sense of humour more influenced by desires to be noticed and appreciated, often at the expense of others. This humour is not humble; it is often more about attention seeking and insecurity.

Other humour can be gentle, being more of a response to life and the situations we get ourselves into, simply by living. The laughter here does not have a hard edge, it comes from empathy and compassion. This humour does not release laughter that is out of proportion to the situation; it does not crash into circumstance, perhaps causing puzzlement, defensiveness, and a hardening of heart. This humour is humble enough.

A good sense of humour can reveal a groundedness in the reality of an earthed life, having perception in touch with the ordinary events of life that have their own quirks and peculiarities. In this reality can be found broad smiles and belly laughs – all shared and at the expense of no-one. A healthy community is predominated with this sense of humour. It is a humour at the service of life; it is shaped by the shared silence of meditation.

All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47, NET)