My new article on Linkedin “Don’t Laugh about Humor”
How does humor affect our mood? Why do people laugh at other people? How can humor improve relationships?
When someone talks about something with humor, we can empathize with the situation. They can talk about very serious situations, but when told with humor, we can look at them from a lighter or surprising perspective. This takes a lot of the gravity out of the situations, and not only makes us feel better, but helps us cope with them, which might have been very difficult, if not impossible without humor.
Good humor is based on wit, on making surprising links between elements and looking at them from a new and curious point of view.
It is well known that laughter has many physical benefits. Here are some of them, courtesy of Mayo Clinic: Laughter stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the release of endorphins (natural painkillers). It creates a good, relaxed feeling and reduces some of the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter even strengthens the immune system.
Laughter also has many emotional benefits: It increases our overall satisfaction with life, makes it easier to cope with difficult situations, and, most importantly, improves our connections with other people. When you have a good, hearty laugh with a person, you cannot fight with him (or her).
There is another benefit of humor: If used correctly, it can prepare us to learn new things easily. This is especially true for things that are emotionally difficult to accept or deal with.
There are other kinds of humor, too. Some people laugh at the faults they find in others. In this case, it has no benefits. It demeans others and makes the mockers feel superior to their victims. Such humor does nothing but bloat the bully’s ego.
It is very painful when other people make fun of our faults. It is not the joke that hurts, nor the flaw itself, but the ridicule of others. Conversely, when someone shows us that they like us just as we are, then laughing at ourselves together with them can bring us closer and deepen our connection.
At the top of the list is self-humor. Confident people can joke about themselves, talk about their weaknesses, urges they cannot control, and so on. This makes them more approachable and brings them closer to other people. It also allows other people to share their own feelings with them.
At a time when the world is becoming increasingly connected and we are more dependent on each other than ever, good humor is a must. We need to be confident enough to laugh not only at our weaknesses, but also at our very nature – our selfishness.
If we can make fun of everything that prevents us from working with others, building trust, and understanding others, it will help us recognize our true nature. If we can laugh about it with other people, it will bring us closer and foster a shared desire for change so that we can connect.
Indeed, we should take humor very seriously; it can be a vital tool in moving us out of narcissism and isolation into connection and friendship.