The Importance of Humor in Everyday Life
Humor or comedy is the prevailing tendency of amusing experiences to elicit laughter and give pleasure. Humor is derived from the Greek word humerus, which means “mirth.” Humor is a spontaneous reaction that results in a marked change of mood or emotions in the person being laughed at. The word is related to the medical knowledge of the ancients, who taught that the natural balance of vital fluids in the body, called humours, controlled emotion and health. Thereby, the dynamic state of humour was known as a state of good health.
Humorous situations are often used as a stimulus for physiological effects that create the release of natural chemicals (especially epinephrine) into the brain, creating a mood enhancement and tension-relieving effect. This often leads to a cathartic effect and a marked improvement in mood, though it should be noted that humour does not have therapeutic value in and of itself. It is important to recognise that there are limits to the therapeutic use of humour. There are also times when we are simply unable to see the funny side or find it funny.
One of the main causes of humour is a reduction in social interactions with people that are our own age. The funny lines and gags in everyday life remind us of our own mortality and the transient nature of human relationships, but it is important to note that humour does have therapeutic value in this process. Laughing at ourselves and others in a light-hearted, albeit critical manner often helps us to reflect upon our own experiences and understand why we may react the way that we do. A form of self-examination that often allows us to identify and challenge those things in our lives that seem to define us and defining what defines us are always valuable and have room for improvement.
Another important area for humour is the physical aspect of humour. Humour has the potential to regenerate. In fact, laughter can act as a powerful agent for social transformation in itself. The act of sharing jokes or funny stories with others has been shown to be effective in helping those who are experiencing ongoing feelings of stress, depression or low self-esteem to better themselves and overcome these same issues.
But it is not just the psychological and physical aspects of humour that can benefit from being humourous. When we laugh, the physiological effects of having fun is also improved. This is because the release of endorphins in our brains has a profound impact on the way that we perceive and respond to situations. There are two schools of thought within the field of behavioural economics that see humour not just as a mechanism for social transformation but as a mechanism for generating private enjoyment. These schools of thought include those that subscribe to the view that humans derive their greatest pleasure from a reward in the form of monetary gain while those that subscribe to the view that humans derive pleasure from a non-monetary reward in the form of shared entertainment.
In this main article we have looked at the physiological effects that laughter has on the body and discussed how it relates to the development of healthy attitudes, utilising humour in negative behaviour. It is clear that there is a strong link between humour and increased levels of happiness. It is also clear that increased levels of happiness are associated with increased levels of life satisfaction. Overall, then, laughter is a key element in our everyday lives. It is an important component of human relationships and the ability to experience joy. If you are feeling blue, maybe it’s time to let go of your sad feelings and get on with some good laugh!