In 2015 a survey showed one of the top British values was the ability to laugh at ourselves. My vertical thought this month is how can that value help us improve our mental health?
According to Plato, “Even the gods love jokes.” If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for all of us.
I slipped down a kerb the other evening, yes I was on my phone...however I wasn’t hurt and it did encourage me to have a giggle about it. Breathe in those moments, be present (maybe don’t walk while texting) and laugh.
I often talk about how much I adore my job and as much as you might think therapy is aself-reflective and therefore occasionally bleak experience, my therapy room is filled with as much laughter as it is tears.
We build rapport through laughter, we find belonging and when we laugh together we can feel an overwhelming wave of positive energy that we continue to ride long after the experience has passed.
The last time I laughed so much that my cheeks ached was at a drag panto in Oxford. Superbly written and performed, laughter really can be the best medicine.
What makes us laugh is subjective and complex, what you might find funny someone else might not,but laughter can be restorative, the key to processing some of our darkest moments.
Studies suggest laughter strengthens our immune system, reduces stress and consequently the ability to laugh at yourself can make you much happier as a result.
Laughter has close links to resilience, emotional expression and intellectual humility where we can find balance in-between the laughter and the tears.
You can use what’s called self-enhancing humour in everyday situations and it’s indicative of a healthy coping mechanism for stress. Viewing yourself through an external lens you can see your conflicts, traits and attitudes, when you can find humour you can utilise its healing qualities.
In social situations many of us have utilised affiliative humour, joking around to garner people’s attention or favour. We are a product of our experiences and consciously adding in the use of self-enhancing and affiliative humour can enhance your mental and physical health.
Like the coin of life there are twosides to humour, although we should embrace theself-enhancingand affiliative we should name and acknowledge those types of which we should stay clear.
Aggressive humour involves insults to yourself or others,self-defeating humour is where we make ourselves the butt of the joke before someone else can. Both these styles when experienced in excess can lead to an increase in anxiety, something a therapist can help you to process.
Laugh at yourself, embrace all your negative and positive characteristics and use laughter as a tool in our occasionally topsy-turvy lives.