We all enjoy a good laugh on occasion, and indeed humour can be a very effective way of easing areas of tension or breaking the ice in a new relationship. But one thing to remember when using humour is that we each have our own distinctive preferences in the things that we find funny and different tastes regarding what we enjoy. Some may like slapstick, sketches, joke telling, others may prefer a more subtle, observational style.
Laughter has been found to improve our overall health, boost our immune system and reduce both our stress levels and blood pressure. It releases endorphins, the feel good, happy chemicals in the brain which are released whenever we exercise, laugh and feel upbeat. Laughing for 10-15 minutes has even been found to burn off up to 40 calories! So, if you're struggling to find something to laugh about maybe look out for opportunities like Laughter Yoga classes, where they teach you how to laugh and 'fool' your brain into feeling good.
However, not all laughter is good and sometimes we may find ourselves asking, 'do you think that's funny?'
- Jokes and banter often require someone to be the butt of the jokes, which can be fun if they find it amusing too. But laughing at someone else's situation or misfortune can sometimes feel rather callous, embarrassing and bullying, causing many of us to feel uncomfortable.
- What about those times when you've gasped in horror as a comedian tells a story or makes a joke about something which feels very personal and uncomfortable, maybe even shameful to you? Embarrassing bodily functions, mistakes you've made, personal issues all seem to be regular topics for observational humour, with the more outrageous the better!
- Do you feel shocked when you hear others laugh at such cringeworthy stories? But once the laughter has died down it can be quite reassuring to know that you're not alone, that others have had similar experiences, the same horror stories, fears and concerns have also happened to them. How liberating to learn that they're prepared to share the stories in public and laugh, potentially making you feel better about it too.
- Seeing a comedian cause amusement by sharing details of an unfortunate event can help remove any emotional stress, apprehension or stigma surrounding it. It helps normalise things that we may not have appreciated affect most of us at different times in life. An awful experience can be helped by realising that, 'it's not just me', it's happened to other people as well.
- Sometimes, though, losing our sense of humour can be an indicator that we're stressed and overtired. Finding ourselves asking, 'do you think that's funny?' might reveal more about us than them. If you start to notice that you're not amused by things that you'd usually laugh at it could mean that it's time to question if you're going through a tough or testing time. Losing your sense of humour could be a valuable prompt that you need to take a break and start to treat yourself better.
Humour is powerful in other areas too.
- It can help to prick someone's pomposity. If someone's in full-on brag mode, boasting and making excessive claims, a well-timed look, raised eyebrow, sotto voce aside can cause other people in the vicinity to laugh, snort or even stifle a fit of the giggles. These responses are likely to deflate someone's over-inflated ego.
- When a point needs to be made quickly, without too much fanfare, humour can come into its own and be the perfect vehicle to use. A pithy riposte or razor-sharp observation can quickly introduce a different, but relevant observation into the mix, making everyone stop, think differently and consider other points and options.
- When relationships are struggling with underlying tension and bad-feeling the sensitive use of humour can help to ease a brittle and stressful atmosphere. In these situations a well-observed comment can put a halt to the bad mood and defuse negativity. A self-reflective 'look at us' remark may cause everyone to laugh at themselves and their behaviour.
- Sometimes, if we're looking to avoid a subject and don't want to be drawn into a conversation, humour can be a valuable diversion technique, enabling the topic to be changed in a hardly perceptible way. Distracting and deflecting can efficiently change the course of a conversation and help us avoid any areas of awkwardness.
And whilst we may find it amusing to enjoy joining in with banter, comments and jokes made at someone else's expense it does also beg the question, what are they saying about me when I'm not around? Are they making jokes about me behind my back? You could simply shrug your shoulders and say to yourself, 'well, if they're laughing about me they're giving some other poor soul a break!' Enjoy the joke, it may well be funny and it's good to laugh!
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net