The Benefits of Humour and Joy

In our examination of frustration, (where it comes from and what to do to eliminate it) one suggestion was to lighten up and inject some humour into the situationOne of my regular readers suggested devoting an issue to the benefits of humour and joy.

Humour is the quality of being funny. Having a sense of humour is described as a state of mind, a temperament or disposition. Joy is a deep feeling of happiness, an outward show of pleasure and delight. (New Collins Dictionary). Betska K-Burr (in Creating Champions) describes humour as “the shortest distance between people”.

How do humour and laughter affect us?

Recent research has shown that humour has a profound connection with physiological states of the body, and there is a link to longevity. (Raymond A Moody) Because laughter causes a loss of muscle tone, “muscle-related pain may vanish with a good guffaw”. (Emotions & Your Health) Laughter triggers a release of hormones which in turn release endorphin, the body’s natural pain killer. Laughter does a lot more:

  • relieves tension
  • breaks negative holding patterns
  • helps put our problems in perspective
  • diffuses anxiety and anger
  • blocks the ravages of panic
  • creates an environment for healing
  • massages inner organs
  • is good exercise for the face, arms, legs, stomach, diaphragm, thorax, circulatory & endocrine systems.

With all these benefits, why wouldn’t we want as much of it and as often as possible? Just this morning, Shelagh Rogers on CBC Radio said “laughter fills you up”. She was linking exuberance to our concept of humour.

How to allow humour and laughter into our lives

  1. Beware of taking ourselves too seriously. “If you can laugh at yourself, you’ll probably cope with obstacles more effectively and rebound from disappointments. You’ll be able to let off steam better, your self-esteem will rise, and people may even like you more.” There is a link between humour and honesty…as one’s honesty with oneself increases, the healthy kind of humour starts to increase. To feel guilt is to take yourself way too seriously, thinking you have to be perfect. Surround yourself with friends who aren’t afraid to laugh in your face. (Emotions & Your Health)
  2. Let go of expectations of others, that way they can’t disappoint you and you can see the humour in the situation.
  3. Choose to see life as a joyful exercise. “The joy of life is our inherited right.” (Kundalini Yoga for the West)
  4. Decide and choose to let go of over-seriousness.
  5. Be playful, creative and curious.
  6. Focus on possibilities.
  7. Smile-smile-smile – at strangers, at yourself, at colleagues, at clients.
  8. Find flow in your life.
  9. Learn more about humour – what it’s OK to laugh at (the unexpected, exaggeration for example) – what not to laugh at (others’ pain or differences)

Coaching Questions to Stimulate Reflection About Your Life & Work

  1. What expectations do you hold that you could let go?
  2. Where can you find joy and laughter?
  3. How could you facilitate joy and laughter in others’ lives?