The best response to have, even in painful moments, is to laugh. Humor is central to a joyful way of being and that includes laughter. It’s central to the way we are in the world and though laughter and crying come from the same place and take the same effort, laughter certainly feels much better. But what is the role of laughter and humor in the cultivation of joy? Laughter can completely relax us and is directly connected with having a warm heart, an essential key to happiness. In fact, some Japanese scientists have discovered that wholehearted laughter is very good for your heart and your health in general. Those who are always laughing are less likely to have a heart attack than those who are constantly serious.
It’s been said that laughter is the most direct line between any two people and that humor is what can break down the social barriers that separate us. Humor actually comes from the same root word for humility and humanity: “soil” or “earth”. Imagine that; the very foundation we stand upon and our sustaining earth is the source for all three of these words. I supposed it isn’t a surprise that we need to have a sense of humility in order to be able to laugh at ourselves, and that laughing at ourselves reminds us of our shared humanity. If we’re able to laugh more habitually, we can develop a greater sense of ease whereas the more serious we are, the more difficulty we’ll have connecting with others.
But humor can also be a very powerful weapon. When we’re faced with difficult situations, sometimes the best way to help is by redirecting the energies of all the factors toward a more positive direction. Laughing or telling jokes is a wonderful way to flip the morale and humor is incredible at diffusing any tense situation. Sharing funny stories can help others laugh and, in turn, they learn to laugh at themselves too. Take the prejudices and hatred sweeping through our nations these days, whether it be in your country, workplace, or social circle. They can create an atmosphere where suffering of any kind is practically palpable in the air. Humor can change this atmosphere because frankly, carrying these feelings is ridiculous. By being able to laugh at the absurdity of our prejudices and our hatreds, everyone can communicate more honestly and compassionately with each other. By taking ourselves less seriously, we can see the ridiculous in us and puncture our own self-importance. Of course, it’s not a laughing matter to wake up and not have a job, but those who can take their situations lightly are also able to laugh at life in all its cruelty and uncertainty so humor really becomes the saving grace.
So where does this wholehearted laughter come from? It’s a humor that is not belittling and it’s not at the expense of others in order to bring yourself up. It’s the joy that comes from finding the common ground — the humus we share. This humor is about being able to laugh at yourself and get others to laugh at you without feeling guilty that they are, in fact, laughing at you. It’s not demeaning amusement; it’s an invitation for everyone to join in the laughter so even though they might be laughing at you, they’re joining you in that laughter and something about that feels wholesome. Teasing is the perfect example of this. Have you ever teased a friend? How about a stranger? Have you ever teased a stranger who soon became your friend shortly after? Teasing is a statement of trust in a relationship; it’s an indication that there’s enough of a reservoir of understanding and kindness that you’re able to say “I trust you, and you trust that I know you will not undermine me or be offended by me.” It can also forge trust in a new relationship; teasing helps you find common ground with a stranger, to laugh at yourself and each other, and lift each other back up together.
(To be continued…)
DAY 31. Love, Ro