Did you hear about the magic tractor? It drove up the road and turned into a field!
Sorry. It’s terrible, isn’t it?! On the other hand, it’s also safe enough not to cause offence to anybody. Hopefully I got a laugh out of you? Or a tiny smirk? If, like me, you grew up in a tiny rural community you can probably relate to it. Even if you grew up in the centre of a crowded metropolis you should still be able to appreciate the word play.
In this article, I take a closer look at the role of humour and the positive impact it can have on our lives. But what exactly is humour? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, humour is –
“The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.”
Which is all well and good, except that what is amusing for you may not be amusing for me. Whilst people of all ages and cultures are able to experience and respond to humour, the extent to which find something humourous is affected by an incredible range of factors. However, the benefits of humour, both psychological and physiological are available to everybody and can play a significant role in transformation.
What are the psychological benefits of humour?
Research indicates that humour contributes to achieving and sustaining a higher level of psychological well being, provided it is the right form of humour – that is, adaptive humour consisting of facilitative and self-enhancing humour. Such affiliative and self-enhancing humour is associated with better self-esteem, positive affect, greater self-competency, as well as anxiety control and social interactions. It has also been recognised that adaptive humour styles may enable people to preserve their sense of wellbeing despite psychological problems.
What are the physiological benefits of humour?
There is a lack of a firm consensus on the true physiological benefits of humour, however various studies have been conducted to investigate a range of possible benefits that include pain tolerance, improved immunity and reduced anxiety. Although the results are somewhat inconclusive in all cases, there is no doubt that frequent laughter is associated with better health. Humour has also been shown to improve and help the ageing process in three areas. The areas are improving physical health, improving social communications, and helping to achieve a sense of satisfaction in life.
Why is laughter good for us?
The primary response to humour is laughter, and it is this reaction that has the greatest effect on our positivity. Laughter can eliminate negativity and stress and help our bodies to reset, as well as helping us to heal and renew and even stave off mental health issues. Benefits of laughter include:
- Relaxes the body
- Boosts the immune system
- Triggers release of endorphins
- Protects the heart
- Burns calories
- Promotes longevity
- Brings you closer to others
- Improves relationships
- Gives you a fresh perspective
- Prevents negative emotions
It is very easy to take life too seriously, especially when you are constantly focused on become the best possible version of yourself. So do one thing – find things that make you laugh and incorporate them into your daily routine. Whether it’s reading a joke or two, going down to your local comedy night, doing something daft or even a ‘laughter yoga’ class, make time in your life for humour and laughter and you will reap the benefits.
See also these previous articles in our A-Z of Techniques for Transformation: