A recent exchange with a friend gave me cause to recall some things that have been said about me in the past — to the tune that I’m not funny, I’m overstressed, tightly wound, or otherwise humorless. Many of these comments coming from people that I’d consider extroverts, I can see their perspective. I don’t think I’ll ever “lighten up” the way they want me to, I’m just not like that.

I think the other comments were unfair, though. I didn’t accuse people of not having a sense of humor. Nowadays, I try not to accuse anyone of anything (it doesn’t always work out that way). I’d rather tell someone they did a good job or give them advice on how they can improve, than explain to them how and why they did something poorly — or categorize them as a particular breed of failure.

I understand different people laugh at different things. Humor has a wide spectrum because it’s based a lot on individual perceptions. I understand that a lot of people don’t “get” the kinds of things I think are funny, because I know a lot of people don’t share my perceptions. I don’t call them humorless for this.

I’m observant, skeptical, analytical, idealistic, pragmatic, and realistic. I question most things I don’t see for myself, and I question just about everything that comes to me from second- and third-hand sources. I’m tired of being upset by things that have gotten garbled by bad communication so I typically reserve judgment until I can review something and decide on an interpretation for myself.

I understand that isn’t efficient enough for some people, who want me to take their word on how things are. I’ve had some people tell me that I “don’t get it,” or accuse me of having trust issues. I guess I might agree with them. I trust what I can observe for myself. I don’t let anyone tell me how or what to think. If someone else has an opinion that I want to share, I find my own way to reach the same conclusion.

You know what kinds of things make me laugh? Coincidences … the little quirks and ironies of daily life. The discrepancies between what you expect and what you get. I enjoy the story behind an event, how accidents and failures can lead to success. I appreciate verbal wit, and well-crafted or thematically appropriate jibes and insults. I like wordplay — clever puns and verbal acrobatics.

I’m not complaining, I haven’t had someone accuse me of having no sense of humor in a long time. I mean, not seriously anyway. Sometimes I remember how someone once treated me badly, and I remember the pain like it’s happening again. If someone tells me I have no sense of humor, I feel awful. I’m glad it doesn’t happen anymore.