I was recently very disappointed with a friend of mine, or should I say ex-friend. He just chucked me out of a project without letting me know why, suddenly with no warning. I felt hurt, rejected, unloved and very annoyed. But somewhere, mixed up in all my emotions was a big, fat grin. It was as if I had known all along not to trust this person, not to believe what he said, just empty words out of an empty friendship and I was laughing at myself.
Since smiling burns a lot more calories than frowning, wrinkles from laughing are much more attractive than those from creasing your brow and I would much rather laugh than cry, I have decided to go along with humour instead of anger in this situation. Freud would call in CARTHARSIS, I just call it making the best out of a bad situation.
We all know telling a joke can diffuse any awkward situation or even break up a fight, and by using humour you can nearly introduce any uncomfortable topic into a conversation. Somehow a grin, a smile, or a chuckle are the perfect ways to reduce stress in any event.
But why is it that humour is not always the same? Well, it seems there are several kinds: self-defeating/neurotic humor, aggressive humor, bonding humour, observational humour, self-enhancing and non confrontational humour. And I always thought a laugh was just a laugh. This multitude of sense-of-humours may explain why at times we just don’t get it, or the joke seems really not that funny, even hurtful, but it also explains why so many things are funny, even if they are completely different to each other.
It seems we learn how to express our sense of humour as kids in the family. Maybe that is why when my sister and I get together we have long belly-aching sessions of laughing till we fall off furniture, while my brother-in-law watches us in wonder. We have practiced on each other all our lives and get all the little in-jokes and quotes with no long explanations and sometimes just a raised eyebrow or look can set us off in giggles.
Psychologist say that when we are being funny, making jokes we are tapping into are child-like-self (not a far reach for me), which explains why I often feel like ten when I am sniggering behind my magazine at the guy who tripped getting off the bus. It even explains the sheer joy of slap stick comedy, is it really that funny when someone slips on a banana peal? Yes it is, ask any toddler!
So by smiling at my disappointment I am tapping into my inner child, getting rid of stress and improving my psychological health. The down side: people who laugh a lot tend to die earlier than their frowning friends as they enjoy life more and don’t take health risks as seriously. I say carpe diem and smile.