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The importance of laughter and humor

Nov 7, 2017

I recently came across a website: https://www.drjulieconnor.com/why-you-need-a-sense-of-humor/ that got me thinking.  These days so many things get me thinking – some of them are negative occurrences or bad news that can make me despair about the state of the world.  But laughter, at the appropriate time and place, can help set the world right again, at least for a little while.  So I decided to think about the importance of laughter and humor.  I have always loved kind humor, wry ways of looking at shared experience, pratfalls, twists of language or puns, and the various other things that life throws at us that can make us laugh.  I do not like humor at others’ expense, the, “Oh don’t get mad, I was only kidding,” kind.  If you have to tell me it was a joke, it wasn’t.  I don’t like practical jokes, the kind that make others feel stupid.

I don’t know Dr. Julie Connor, but she said, “There is deep wisdom at the heart of humor.  It allows you to look at challenges with a lens that frees you from defeat.  Laughter lowers stress levels, permits you to comfortably engage with others, and allows you to diffuse difficult situations.”  I do like that.  She also offered a few tips to make laughter work for you, such as (paraphrased and elaborated by my own experience):

  1. Be aware of cultural context.  Don’t make or share jokes that are offensive to anyone.  Don’t make fun of others.  Don’t call your own or others’ dignity into question.  
  2. Learn to laugh at yourself.  Really, you are your best material.  Think of comedians you enjoy.  Often they are talking about the humor in their own lives or the ridiculous situations they caused or that happened to them.  So much of our lives are funny if viewed from a certain awareness.  Much is out of our control.  Much is absurd.  If you can find the absurdity in your own circumstances, you can keep them from getting you down.
  3. Share laughter when you can.  A group laugh is as good as a group hug.  It connects you and opens you up to understanding and seeing the ways you are alike.  It is shared experience of the best kind.  
  4. Lighten up.  Not everyone will share your point of view or your sense of humor.  If you are the only one in the group that heard something humorous, that’s fine as long as you are following tip # 1 above.  If others are laughing and you did not get the joke, that’s OK too.  If you open up to it, however, humor is everywhere.

We live in a time when, Dr. Connor says, “What we once called ‘rudeness’ is now considered ‘entertainment.’”  We have bachelors and bachelorettes, celebrity housewives, survivors, apprentices, and other “reality show” stars that peddle meanness and vindictiveness as characteristics of winners.  We need a counterbalance: kind humor, a funny use of language, commiserating with others about the human condition, etc.

Dr. Connor notes, “Our planet desperately needs brave souls with a sense of humor.  And kind hearts.  They make the world a brighter place to be.”

Be brave, be kind, be funny.  None of us is getting out of this life alive, so you might as well live it with humor while you can.