A laugh a day might just keep the psychiatrist away.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.Danish proverb
Growing up, the wording of this sage advice was changed somewhat, but the meaning and intent was still the same. My father, the smart old man that he was, would always change “weep” to “cry”, but the meaning was exactly the same. If you want people to stick around, learn to laugh.
The Many Benefits Of Laughter
Laughter doesn’t only benefit us socially, but mentally and physically as well. In fact, laughter has been proven to:
- Reduce stress, tension and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce pain
- Improve depression
- Increase attractiveness
- Lessen ageing
- Boost self-esteem
And much more
It’s no wonder then that so many people who laugh have a better quality of life!
Using Laughter To Cope With Chronic Pain
One of the things that astound so many people about me is that I live with chronic pain. My family have nicknamed me “Chameleon” (or “Cammy”, for short) and take particularly to dancing around the lounge and singing The Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon when my wrist changes colour. If I develop spasms in my wrist or knee, I joke that my limb is having a party and none of us is invited. For us, laughter is a coping mechanism for living with my condition, and it astounds so many people that I suffer like I do, simply because I’m able to laugh at myself.
When I applied for Personal Independence Payment, many people couldn’t take my condition seriously. I seemed so jovial and so upbeat, there was no way I could be in so much pain! The simple truth is in the advice my father gave me – nobody wants to be around somebody who mopes, whines and moans, and what’s worse, chronic pain or chronic loneliness?
A little laughing at one can go a long way towards preventing the other.
Tips for Using Laughter
Love Thyself, Laugh At Thyself
One of the first and biggest parts of using laughter is being able to laugh at yourself. It’s so fundamentally important to understand that none of us is perfect and we all, as humans, we all make mistakes. If you can laugh at yourself instead of wondering why you aren’t perfect, it will go a long way to boosting your confidence. Remember, nobody is perfect (though I do try 😉 ).
Laugh At Adversary
So many people fall into a fit of rage when they experience a setback, and in some sense it’s perfectly understandable, but then you need to be able to laugh because quite often stressing out won’t fix the problem. Only a few days ago, I managed to get kitchen cleaner (with bleach) on a favourite navy top of mine. I didn’t realise until far too late, and when I did, I had brick red splatter marks on the waist of my beloved t-shirt.
“Oh well, it’s the new in thing for 2020, what do you think?” I joked.
Laugh With People, Not At Them (Unless They Invite You To)
Perhaps the biggest area that so many people still get wrong is that it is simply not okay to laugh at other people who aren’t laughing with you. Members of the public are not put there as free amusement for you, and it says a lot about you if you treat them that way. Never, ever laugh at someone, not unless they invite you to.
Humour’s Dark Side – Clowns & Sad Clown Syndrome
One of the saddest and most damning issues with humour is quite how often comedy can be used to mask severe depression. Many in the entertainment industry will understand the pressure to entertain and perform and many, many people will remember the late beloved entertainer Robin Williams, who went on to take his own life. Most interestingly, it is quite often those who try to appear aloof who are the most depressed of all. Even myself, I have acted exuberant at times as a mask for the pain I was feeling within. Sadly and all too often, some of the biggest entertainers are doing exactly the same.
Humour & Empathy – Why We Love Comedians
A few weeks ago, I watched this video clip of one of my favourite comedians, Lee Evans and in it, he made a very interesting point. For comedy to work, the audience needs to relate to the comedian. That is, the audience needs to be able to empathize.
For a lot of people, some comedians simply aren’t funny and this has a lot to do with laughing at other people, rather than with them. In the UK, one of the most controversial comedians is none other than Jimmy Carr. Although some of the witty retorts he comes out with can be hilarious, he has also faced a lot of controversy for laughing at and disrespecting disabled people, and fans.
For humour to work successfully, the intended audience needs to be able to relate. If the audience can’t relate, then the joke falls flat and the humour doesn’t work. What is funny is not a matter of definition, so much as a matter of perspective. Lee is a typically British married man, and Shappi is a single mom. In both audiences, there will be hundreds who can relate (and therefore be able to laugh) because there will be hundreds of married men and moms. When it comes to jokes about disability or sexuality, fewer people laugh because fewer people find such comedy okay, have a disability or are gay themselves, or know or care for someone who is disabled or gay. Once again, the deciding factors for what does and does not qualify as ‘comedy’ has changed and it is important that when making a joke, we remember to read our audience. Nothing harms the ego more than being the joke that tells bad jokes, so make sure they land well the first time! 😉
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this look at the positive impact of laughter and I hope that you will be back soon for another post.
Remember, keep smiling, and keep laughing!
Until ext time,
Stay safe & have fun,