“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” – Mark Twain
As we are walking through the storm with greater confidence, words like bravery, resilience, and perseverance come to mind. These are all essential traits to possess and utilize but what if I told you to laugh more, to smile a lot, to tell funny stories during the storm?
Before you think I’m one fry short of a Happy Meal, read on.
My goal in this blog is to show you, in the words of Mark Twain, a really effective weapon for the storms you face in life: the strength of humor.
Six years ago I had the great pleasure of honoring my mom’s life at her memorial service. It had been a heavy season waiting for the inevitable. I’m an only child. My mom and I were extremely close; I had her with me till she was 101 years old.
Nonetheless, the last 6 months of her life were extremely difficult anticipating the end. Planning the services was painful as only those who have walked through that process know.
With a very heavy heart, I stood in front of a loving audience; all of whom came to pay tribute to my mom.
I shared a story dating back to when I was in high school.
As I recall, it went something like this:
“I know it’s difficult for you to imagine me as an overreacting teenage girl but give it a try. Whenever I faced heartbreak or disappointment, I was way over the top melodramatic. I’d rush into my room, fling myself on my bed and proceed to ball my eyes out. As if my life was over.
My mom would lovingly follow me into my room and say, ‘Mejita, stop crying, save those tears for when you momma dies.’
Little did I know I’d be saving my tears for almost 90 years!”
Laughter filled the church and magically lifted my heavy spirit.
Humor – what a gift
It’s obvious that humor is a gift but did you know that humor is also a strength you already possess? This strength comes with tremendous benefits not only for you but it also positively impacts the people around you.
Humor is one of the 24 Character Strengths identified by the VIA Institute. These strengths are the positive aspects of your personality. They are the virtues that make you feel authentic and engaged. When utilized, these strengths contribute to a greater sense of wellbeing, increased confidence, and lower psychological distress.
Benefits of Humor
I use strengths as a framework for my coaching practice so obviously, I know the importance of them. Subconsciously, for years I ignored the strength of humor probably because I didn’t feel I was good at it; not one of my strong suits.
However, once I started doing more research on humor, I discovered that it has so many incredible benefits and it is well worth developing.
Did you know that humor contributes to your emotional and psychological well-being? People who incorporate humor into their lives are much better at handling stress.
That’s because humor reduces stress levels, gives relief from tension, releases pent-up nervous energy, and decreases anxiety.
At the end of the day; humor promotes resilience.
At a professional level, a sense of humor increases work performance, boosts creative thinking, increases collaboration, and lowers burnout.
Humor will give you the relief you need from what you are facing, it’s excellent for team-building situations, and enhances forward movement.
Honing Your Sense of Humor
I use to think that some people were just naturally born funny; they were hilarious storytellers and could deliver a punch line like one of Muhammad Ali’s famous knock-out punches.
In actuality, anyone can incorporate more humor into their life; humor is a life skill that can be taught.
It’s actually not too difficult to add a dose of humor to your world. Let’ look at 3 ways.
1. Lighten Up
I don’t know about you but more frequently than I’d like to admit, I take life way too serious. If I’m being honest, the majority of the time, I’m operating in a hyper-vigilant mode.
I’m a doer, I’m strategic, I’m extremely responsible; productivity fuels me. Consequently, those strong traits get overused and I forget to laugh, to smile, to find humor in situations.
If you’re like me, there’s hope.
I wanted to balance out my strengths so I became intentional at incorporating humor; I stopped taking life so seriously.
I had a lightbulb moment. I thought I had to be a funny person and knew I wasn’t. A friend of mine who is a natural-born comedian enlightened me. He said, “Rita you are right- you’re not a funny person but you are a fun person.”
I just had to be who I was naturally and look for the lighter side to things.
Almost effortlessly, I started finding more amusement in my circumstances.
Try it. Even if it’s just for a second, it is worth what it makes you feel.
2. Make Me Smile
We’ve established that humor is the capacity to express or perceive amusement in situations. It’s looking at the lighter side of life. The effects of humor are not for your benefit alone; humor makes other people smile and laugh.
There’s magic in that; well actually that magic is in the brain and they are called endorphins. Smiling stimulates the production of endorphins.
When the smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating the reward system and further increasing the level of endorphins.
According to an article in the British Counsel, smiling creates a happiness feedback in the loop of our brains.
In short, when your brain is happy, you smile and when you smile, your brain feels happier. It’s a healthy feel-good loop.
Science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower your stress levels, boost your immune system, and possibly even prolong your life.
So smile as if your mental health depends on it.
3. Be Attractive
Finally, if all the things mentioned do not motivate you to add humor to your life…I’ve got another ace up my sleeve. I’m going to appeal to your ego.
Research shows that humorous people are more socially attractive; others want to be around them.
And for you single people, according to an article on Live Science, a recent study showed that a sense of humor can help you snag a date.
So when all else fails, listen to your ego and bring out the wit.
Hopefully, I’ve given a good defense for the fact that I am not one fry short of a Happy Meal; at least when it comes to smiling and laughing more during the storm that is.
When all is said and done, we can always rely on wisdom from the famous comic strip Peanuts.
“Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life but will surely add life to your years.”
Always remember – Nothing is Impossible
I have created this anti-anxiety and anti-stress tool kit, proven by science, to help you reduce anxiety and stress. I guarantee you that if you implement some of these ideas and use these tools; you will navigate this uncertainty boat like a highly skilled Captain.