It is no secret that laughing is good and people like it. There is that occasional sourpuss that resists or scoffs. But if properly motivated I have found that even they can laugh and enjoy it. It makes you feel good and it is fun. But it’s more than just fun too! A favorite form of entertainment seems to be laughing at people doing dumb things. America’s Funniest Home Videos is just one piece of evidence. An entire show dedicated to embarrassing videos of people doing dumb things and laughing at themselves and each other.
There was a time when I was not able to laugh at myself. If you have never had a problem with that consider yourself fortunate. For those of you that have had difficulty laughing at yourself, I want to encourage you that it is a learnable skill. As I said I used to have a problem with that. I used to feel shame and condemnation when I did something embarrassing. I felt it was wrong when I did something stupid. Of all things, the insurance company Geico helped me. Their commercials with the tagline “We all do dumb things” normalized making mistakes. Here are 3 for you to enjoy:
Even so it was a good many years that it took for me to really get a handle on laughing at myself. I wrote about it in my book “Emerging With Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, And The Love that Heals”. I don’t know if what I called a “puzzle piece” was the first time I genuinely laughed at myself, but I know it felt like it. Since then I have had the pleasure of doing it much more…
Like just the other day….
I was driving and needed to make a left turn. As I approached the intersection I saw a truck pulling a semi parked in the center lane. Frequently this lane is blocked by cars using the entrance to a fast food place not far from the corner. They stop in the lane for their turn which causes a space in front of them in the lane for the left turn at the light. When this happens, if you don’t go around them you can get stuck behind them for a cycle of the light and who wants to do that? Anyways, knowing this I went around the truck to pull in the center lane on the other side of it. However, I found there was a car there! So, I stopped in the driving lane next to it, until I could pull in behind it, for my left turn. But… then I saw it! I saw the semi had a driver in it!! That meant the truck was not parked. It was the semi pulling the truck and now I’m sitting in a non-turn lane trying to cut him off and stopping traffic behind me AHHHHHH!
Fortunately before any honking or cursing at me occurred as I am sitting in a completely wrong place obstructing traffic, I pulled away. Here is where I made a choice. I felt the shame of doing something that appeared stupid and my mind raced to justify how it wasn’t stupid. In that mishmash of emotions, I made a deliberate decision to laugh. It was fake but I was laughing and it got into real laughing but then fake, then real. Back and forth until I arrived at my destination where I told the story of what I had done and we all laughed together, for real.
Laughing at yourself is a sign of resiliency. John Haltiwanger
Laughing at ourselves or at something else is more than just fun. It lightens our mental load. It has positive effects on our body both now and over time.
- Rich Oxygen – Laughter increases the intake of oxygen in the air you are breathing. This simple increase of rich oxygen stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles and causes the brain to release those things called endorphins aka happy hormones. See. There is a scientific reason laughing makes us feel good.
- Flips Stress Response Switch – This sounds bad but the opposite is true. Turning the stress response on and then off leaves behind a feeling of relaxation and calm.
- Circulate Relaxation – With laughter comes an increase in blood circulation and helps to relax muscles. The two together can help prevent the body from manifesting symptoms of stress like headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, etc.
- Strengthen Immune – Science now agrees and supports that negative thoughts actually create chemical reactions inside the human body. These negative chemical reactions usher in more stress having a negative effect on the immune system. Inversely, positive thoughts release a different chemical (neuropeptides) into our system. This chemical fights stress and combats diseases. Laughter is positive and there are stories of people getting healed through laughter alone.
- Pain Relief – Laughing can cause the body to release natural painkillers bringing relief. And even if it doesn’t relieve the pain all together it is a very nice distraction that will provide those happy hormones.
- Enjoy Life – Laughter can help us cope, handle difficult things more positively. It also helps us get along with others better. Both make us happier.
- Enhance Mood – Let’s face it, many people suffer situational depression as well as mental disorders and/or problems. Although I do not dare to say you can simply laugh depression, anxiety, etc. away, I will say it can help. Every little bit helps and help is always good.
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.
So now you know benefits of laughing – in general, or at ourselves. Care to share any of your “I did a dumb thing” stories?
Nothing feels as good to me as laughing incredibly hard.
With that quote in mind I leave you with one more laugh – a video I find utterly hilarious.
“People without kids don’t know” by Michael McIntyre
Can I send you this?
Free download of Dare to Believe.