Laughing It Out: The Practical Benefits of Humor Essay.
All it takes is a little sense of humor. It is indeed among the simplest and noblest answers that one can find as a cure to so many disorders and distresses in this world. A small laugh, a chuckle, a giggle – quite unimpressive but, yes, this is the antidote to it all. Ever wonder how lighter we feel just by watching playful children spend countless hours laughing over a silly cartoon TV show till they roll over? Or how it feels good to laugh at oneself when we try to cope from an embarrassing situation? It is simply humor.
So what is humor, really?
Is it a learned trait or an inevitably innate characteristic of an individual? And what pain or stress reliever does it comprise of? Humor is a very personal yet in a way a contagious form of therapy. Humor is the plain capability of laughing at oneself and of the smallest and simplest amusing things occurring in one’s environment.
It is practically one’s humility in accepting one’s silliness and imperfections. Humor – often portrayed through laughter – is also the art of turning negative circumstances to more positive ones.
It is looking beyond the disappointments and all other forms of “stop”/ “halt” signs to being happy. Humor is broadly depicted in three major aspects of an individual – physically, emotionally and socially. To further illustrate the impact of humor & laughter to the physical and overall health conditions of a person; let’s take for an example two students from the university. One is “The Gifted Child”, a beautiful diligent student but very stingy should you ask for a smile. The other is the cheerleader, the “Ms Congeniality” of the batch, although not as gorgeous as the other.
Placing these two personas in context, one may see who stands out in the crowd with a healthier disposition. In an instant, beauty and brains may behold the eyes of one person, as with the Gifted Child. However, more than anything else, humor and laughter can be as far as contagious than any form of virus in this world, as it can cause a domino effect of wellness, of joy and amusement, of a deep sense of appreciation in the simplest of things (Helpguide. org, 2007). This is the appeal projected by Ms.
Congeniality to the people around her, despite her below-average looks. Her great sense of humor enabled her to radiate her inner beauty. From this illustration, it is also suggested that these individuals are more likely the stress-free types. Happy people are pleasing to look at and enjoy taking care of themselves, regardless of his status in the society. They wake up in the morning with gusto and anticipation for the day. They keep their day busy with healthy and productive things. And they end their day with a smile on their face.
Scientifically, humor and laughter activates the chemistry of the body to live and increases one’s capacity to fight diseases (Helpguide. org, 2007). This will to survive is hyped-up in the mind of the person. When he understands that it is not bad after all to be below the average standards of society’s acceptable physical attributes, then he will continue to take care of himself. A distressed person would rather slouch and slump at one corner, and wallow in self-pity than fight back. The mind plays a crucial role in keeping one’s humor intact and healthy.
Nevertheless, it is also important to note that even though an open mind and an optimistic attitude will bring about the best in one’s health, we wary about the promise of complete cures through “positive thinking. ” On the other hand one should remember thataA cure may be beyond your reach, but a joyful mind is not (Woolston, 2000). Having a bit of humor can also add spice to one’s life. Gifted Child may take a grade B in her Algebra as upsetting as ever. But Ms. Congeniality, with her humor and wits, can turn a sloppy performance in a cheerleading competition to a learning opportunity for her entire team.
It is in this disposition that one’s humor and laughter is manifested through one’s emotional stability. The tendency for us to succumb to feelings of depression and helplessness are decreased if we are able to laugh at what is troubling us. Through humor, we are given a new and more sensible perspective on our problems (Holistic Nursing Practice, 1996). We become aware that life does not stop there. Laughter fuels one’s determination of moving forward, but not ignoring the fact that we did commit a mistake – a mistake we should learn from.
Humor is also related to subjective well-being. Subjective well-being, as the term indicates, is primarily concerned with the person’s subjective judgment of his or her well-being (Diener et al. , 1999). Because the standards of self-evaluation are different to the individual, evaluating whether one’s life as a whole is satisfying or not, can be a challenging cognitive task to the individual. Diener and Fujita (1995) observe that subjective well-being comprises people’s evaluation, both affective and cognitive, of their lives. According to Veenhoven (2000),Subjective well-being is related to the common term “happiness,” and it can range from depression to elation.
It can have both “affective” aspects (I feel good about my life) and cognitive aspects (I think that the various aspects of my life, i. e. , family, job, education etc. , are satisfactory). This construct is related to the individual’s capacity to inject humor into his life! According to a study dated February 2005 released by Texas A&M University, humor may significantly increase a person’s level of hope, which, in turn, could help an individual better cope with obstacles and stress.
Researchers believe that the positive emotion of hope generated by humor, further stimulates thought processes and increases an individual’s ability to solve problems creatively (AVMA Group, 2005). Handling stress is all in the mind, and humor shifts the ways in which we think. It is not situations that generate our stress, it is how we interpret the meaning of the situations happening. Humor adjusts the meaning of an event so that it is not so overwhelming. Another thumbs-up factor for humor on its impact on health! Finally, Ms. Congeniality and Gifted Child emanate a different kind of effect on people.
Without humor and laughter, intimidation or insecurities may settle in – factors again contributing to dilapidating health conditions. Humor helps people connect with one another in a comfortable manner. Groups of people enjoy sharing and experiencing humor together, coupled with more talk, touch and eye contact (AVMA Group, 2005). We have very powerful minds that what is entertained, is reflected as the person’s energy towards others and towards the world. The happy person keeps on radiating this aura of “feel-good” which attracts people. Human relationships benefit from humor and laughter.
It bonds ties, reaches out to the loneliest inner self, and starts the healing process. Friendships, marriages, business partnerships, clans – are made unwavering when humor and laughter are present (AVMA Group, 2005). All these in mind, it is no wonder that laughter is the best medicine. It’s the most inexpensive therapy for people of all ages, across cultures, beyond boundaries. It is the pain-reliever available over-the-counter, even over-any store in this world. Life is full of challenges. Truth is, some things would not really change overnight despite our positive outlook over things.
But it would make a total difference in taking this road of life, if we at least wear a smile on our face, survive, and religiously take this pill called Humor.
References American Veterinary Medical Association Group. (2005). Laugh Yourself Healthy. Retrieved from www. avma. com Diener, E. , Suh, E. , & Oishi, S. (1999). Recent findings on subjective well-being. (Retrieved on June 14, 2007, from [email protected] psych. uiuc. edu. U. S. A: University of Illinois. Diener, E. , & Fujita, M. (1995). Cross cultural correlates of life satisfaction and selfesteem.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 653-663. Helpguide. org. (2007). Humor and Laughter: Health Benefits and Online Sources. Retrieved from www. helpguide. org Holistic Nursing Practice. (1996). Humor: An Antidote for Stress, 10 (2), 49-55. Reader’s Digest. (2005). Laugh Your Way to Good Health. Retrieved from www. rd. com Veenhoven, R. (2000). Freedom and happiness. In E. Diener, & E. M. Suh (Eds. ). Culture and subjective well-being. U. S. A: Bradford Book. Woolston, C.. (2000). Humor Therapy. Retrieved from .