G. K. Chesterton once wrote: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” And Proverbs 17:22 says that “a happy heart is good medicine.” Here are just a few ways a dose of humor might transform something ugly and stressful to slightly entertaining, and, well, a tad less catastrophic.
1. Humor Combats Fear. Humor disengages fear because it changes your perspective both on the past and the present. Laughter forces a few steps–some much-needed distance– between a situation and our reaction. We all would do well to follow the advice of Leo Buscaglia: “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!”
2. Humor Comforts. Charlie Chaplin once said, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” There is an unspoken message hidden within a chuckle that says this: “I promise, you’ll get through this.”
3. Humor Relaxes. Like any exercise, laughing relaxes you and works against the chronic stress that most people wear on their shoulders. The ways the body manifests that are: irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and increased sensitivity to pain. When people use humor, the autonomic nervous system just tones down a bit to take it off high gear, and that allows the heart to relax.
4. Humor Reduces Pain. “Humor rooms,” which encourage people to use humor in their recovery from any kind of illness, are now available in some hospitals. The patients exposed to humor perceived less pun as compared to patients who didn’t receive humor stimuli.
5. Humor Boosts the Immune System. Whenever I prick myself accidentally, I tell a joke, and my finger doesn’t bleed! Well, not exactly. Simply anticipating laughter boosted health-protecting hormones and chemicals. Laughter was once again found to increase the ability to fight viruses and foreign cells.
6. Humor Reduces Stress. The same research team in Loma Linda, California, conducted a similar study recently to see if the anticipation of laughter that was shown to boost immune systems could also reduce the levels of three stress hormones: cortisol (“the stress hormone”), epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopac, a dopamine catabolite (brain chemical which helps produce epinephrine). Therefore, researchers suggest that anticipating a positive event can reduce detrimental stress hormones.
7. Humor Spreads Happiness. Laughter is contagious. That’s why there are 5,000 laughter clubs around the world-where people laugh for no reason at all. Say what? According to Dr. Shaya of Good Samaritan Hospital, “These clubs have exercises that teach how to move your face, how to laugh more intensely to involve the shoulders, then the belly.”
8. Humor Cultivates Optimism. Humor is like gratitude in that it nurtures optimism, and Dan Baker writes this in “What Happy People Know”: “[Appreciation] is the first and most fundamental happiness tool. Thus, appreciation is the antidote to fear.” So if humor can change a perspective on a painful memory of the past or a gnawing issue of the present into opportunities to laugh at the inherent craziness of life at times, then a person can better facilitate his own healing.
9. Humor Helps Communication. This is a good advice for anyone especially for the person prone to anxiety and depression. Humor is a way to articulate those truths that are so difficult to express otherwise.
i think i should have a good laugh today.
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD: H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it’s H to O.
TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America ?
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher