The Power of Laughter (Part 2)

Humor improves mental and emotional health

"Humor is a powerful emotional medicine that can lower stress, dissolve anger and unite families in troubled times. Mood is elevated by striving to find humor in difficult and frustrating situations. Laughing at ourselves and the situation helps reveal that small things are not the earth-shaking events they sometimes seem to be. Looking at a problem from a different perspective can make it seem less formidable and provide opportunities for greater objectivity and insight. Humor also helps us avoid loneliness by connecting with others who are attracted to genuine cheerfulness. And the good feeling that we get when we laugh can remain with us as an internal experience even after the laughter subsides.

Mental health professionals point out that humor can also teach perspective by helping patients to see reality rather than the distortion that supports their distress. Humor shifts the ways in which we think, and distress is greatly associated with the way we think. It is not situations that generate our stress, it is the meaning we place on the situations. Humor adjusts the meaning of an event so that it is not so overwhelming.

Here are some additional things we can do to improve our mood, enjoyment of life and mental health.

*Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them – this helps improve our disposition and the disposition of those around us.

*Use cathartic laughter to release pent-up feelings of anger and frustration in socially acceptable ways.

*Laugh as a means of reducing tension because laughter is often followed by a state of relaxation.

*Lower anxiety by visualizing a humorous situation to replace the view of an anxiety-producing situation

Humor helps us stay emotionally healthy

A healthy sense of humor is related to being able to laugh at oneself and one's life. Laughing at oneself can be a way of accepting and respecting oneself. Lack of a sense of humor is directly related to lower self esteem. (Note that laughing at oneself can also be unhealthy if one laughs as a way of self degradation.)

Mental Health Benefits of Laughter

*Humor enhances our ability to affiliate or connect with others.

*Humor helps us replace distressing emotions with pleasurable feelings. You cannot feel angry, depressed, anxious, guilty, or resentful and experience humor at the same time.

*Lacking humor will cause one's thought processes to stagnate leading to increased distress.

*Humor changes behavior – when we experience humor we talk more, make more eye contact with others, touch others, etc.

*Humor increases energy, and with increased energy we may perform activities that we might otherwise avoid.

*Finally, humor is good for mental health because it makes us feel good!

Social benefits of humor and laughter

Our work, marriage and family all need humor, celebrations, play and ritual as much as record-keeping and problem-solving. We should ask the questions "Do we laugh together?" as well as "Can we get through this hardship together?" Humor binds us together, lightens our burdens and helps us keep things in perspective. One of the things that saps our energy is the time, focus and effort we put into coping with life's problems including each other's limitations. Our families, our friends and our neighbors are not perfect and neither are our marriages, our kids or our in-laws. When we laugh together, it can bind us closer together instead of pulling us apart.

Remember that even in the most difficult of times, a laugh, or even simply a smile, can go a long way in helping us feel better.

*Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
*Humor unites us, especially when we laugh together.
*Laughter heals.
*Laughs and smiles are enjoyed best when shared with others.
*To laugh or not to laugh is your choice.
*Bringing more humor and laughter into our lives
*If laughter is the best medicine, where is the pharmacy where we can fill our prescriptions?

Developing our sense of humor

Laughter is a birthright, a natural part of life. The part of the brain that connects to and facilitates laughter is among the first parts of the nervous system to come on line after birth. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

We may begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as we do with working out. But eventually, we want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of our lives, finding it naturally in everything we do. Here are ways to start.


Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.

*Count your blessings.

Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When in a state of sadness, we have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

*Spend time with people who have successfully incorporated humor into their lives. These are people who naturally take life lightly, who routinely find ordinary events hysterical. Their points of view and their laughter are contagious."

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Incorporating humor into everyday life

I went to the the dialysis center in Philadelphia the other day, my mother came along. I like her to drive because going to the hospital/doctors always tires me out. Anyway I had to get blood drawn, which is not always the easiest thing with me because I have small veins. Well this time wasn't any different, but I was in a good mood. I was laughing and joking around with the nurses, while the nurse was trying to take my blood. She ended up sticking me 5 times and finally got some blood on that last stick. I was fine with it, but my mother wasn't she was pretty grumpy, she didn't like me getting stuck that many times. I told her to lighten up, they are just doing their job! I eventually cheered her up. :)

"Spending time with children is one way to enhance our playfulness, add humor to our lives and help take ourselves less seriously. Not taking ourselves so seriously is an important component in adding humor to our lives."

I love hanging out with my niece, Jenna. She is filled with so much energy! She just keeps going. She loves singing,music, dancing, playing, she just knows how to have a good time! I can act as silly as I want when I hang around her. After a day with her I need a nap! *laughs*

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