How important is a sense of humour

Oct 14 2020

How important is a sense of humour

During this time, I have been reading up on how different things can impact on your life and make a particular situation better. One of the areas I explored was humour and how it makes us more resilient, creative and resourceful, skills we particularly need at this moment in time.

Let’s look at social media posts and what is popular. Humour is popular for numerous reasons. Consider why the Les Mis spoof of One More Day, performed by the Marsh family in Kent (“Have you seen my brother’s hair / Do I change my underwear?”) racked up millions of views. Although not a huge user of twitter, I found my feed populated with memes – loo roll, home educating and overeating featured heavily. Of course, for some humour has a darker side, the daily briefings closing to the theme tune of Only Fools and Horses; a Dominic Cummings meme (“Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Drive 450 Miles to Check Whether You’re Going Blind.”)

I read a study by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. They have spent five years studying the power of humour: watching hours of standup; interviewing comedians; training in the world’s best comedy institutions and teaching it at Stanford University. The main findings are that humour is an unappreciated, underused superpower.

They have found that laughter triggers the ‘happy hormones’ and suppresses cortisol, the stress hormone.

Of course, some people think the current situation is too serious to laugh, but Bagdonas, claims now is the time we need humour more than ever. Due to the global pandemic, the shift to remote working, loneliness and depression rising precipitously, many of us have never felt so disconnected. When we laugh with someone – whether through a screen or 2m apart – we get this cocktail of hormones that strengthen our emotional bonds in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I found that additional studies showed it makes us more resilient, creative and resourceful.

I found digging into various research on the benefits both to the mind and the body very interesting. Do you agree that humour is good for the mind and body? How do you feel when you laugh so hard you can hardly breathe and crying with laughter?

What I learned from that was that finding ways to laugh through hardship reminds us that we’re in control of our heart and mind, whatever darkness lies behind the door. And that’s a triumph.


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