Nancy was telling her friend about an incident that happened several years ago at a party. Nancy’s husband got drunk and made a spectacle of himself. “I was so embarrassed,” she said, “and so angry that I was practically ready to file for divorce. But then I saw the funny side of it. This changed my anger into mirth and averted a needless confrontation.”
Shared laughter forms an instant bond between people. Those who do not take life or themselves too seriously are much healthier and happier than those who do.
We aren’t advocating a frivolous outlook, but people who are able to recognize the absurdities of everyday life and manage to chuckle about them are generally better able to handle and cope with stressful situations.
• Attempt to take yourself lightly even when you are doing serious work.
• Try to laugh harder and more often. A genuine sense of humor enables one to keep out of mental ruts and can ward off boredom and even depression.
What can be referred to as “mirthful laughter” is a psychic tonic. Biologists have hypothesized that laughter stimulates the production of catecholamines and endorphins in the brain, which affect hormone levels related to joy, and result in a higher pain tolerance threshold and a strengthened immune system.
Here are some ideas for lightening up.
• Deliberately be on the lookout for more of the absurd, ludicrous and ridiculous events that go on all the time. See the funny side of them. Point them out to others. Keep a note of the funniest things you see or hear. This is sometimes called “Cosmic Humor.”
• Even if something is not funny, try to laugh. You may be stuck in traffic, for example. Instead of scowling, try laughing. There is a theory that the shift in facial muscles may trigger some of the benefits of genuine laughter.
• Pay attention to whatever tickles your funny bone—cartoons, posters, letters, humorous stories, or jokes — and try to surround yourself with more of what amuses you.
A word of caution. Avoid jokes based on ridicule. They are grounded more on hostility than humor and can inflict pain. And jokes based on cynicism are also not helpful and may in fact backfire. A play on words can be fantastic and really witty and amusing. Cultivate the capacity to appreciate life’s absurdities.
Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.
Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar. Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America” Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D. For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute. Or visit his page here on friendlysuggestions.com.
Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus & Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus: