In my email inbox right now is an interesting email all about humor. The authors discuss humor’s power in improving relationships, improving business, and building small and large teams concisely. An interesting:
“The average four-year-old laughs as many as three hundred times per day while the average forty-year-old, by comparison, laughs three hundred times every two and a half months.”, say doctors Aaker and Bagdonas, authors of “Humor, Seriously.”
Why are adults taking themselves so seriously?
Common knowledge, laughter IS the BEST Medicine, and Reader’s Digest has been declaring this for multiple decades [Emphasis Mine]. Consider:
– Laughter releases oxytocin, creating connection, looping fear out.
– The anticipation of laughter decreases cortisol (the stress hormone linked to anxiety) and epinephrine (our flight hormone) by 39% and 70%, respectively.
– When we are less scared (less stressed) and lonely (more connected), we are better prepared to learn.
– In one research study where people wrote testimonials for a product, people who wrote humorous testimonials were rated as five percent more competent, 11 percent more confident, and 37 percent higher in status.
– In another study, managers perceived to have a sense of humor were rated by subordinates as 23% more respected and 25% more pleasant to work around.
Ed Rivera, a US Navy/Marine Corps Chaplain, suggested six reasons why people take themselves too seriously. Included are four points from Chaplain Rivera’s list for consideration.
- “[People] generally do not understand the humor or purpose for levity.”
- How many times has a situation been humorous, but the business rules, social concerns, or fear proclaimed that laughing is inappropriate; but, as soon as the peer group changes, the situation is hilarious and is often retold?
- Hence, the problem is not that the situation was not funny, but fear and peer-pressure interfered with an emotional response, and the core problem was never relaxed.
- There is a line between everyone laughing at a situation and laughing at a person. Being cognizant of this line is everyone’s job. However, laughter should not suffer, and mental health should not take a nosedive because it is funny, but the people are overly sensitive.
- “Humor unnerves people with insecurities because it uncloaks their wounds and weaknesses. They feel vulnerable, out of control, and emotionally naked. In a nutshell, while you’re feeling pleasure, they’re feeling pain.”
- Except, choosing to feel vulnerable, out of control, or emotionally naked is the problem, not the situation’s levity.
- What would happen if a leader employed this opportunity as a learning opportunity?
- If failure is allowed as a learning experience, then why not teach people to laugh at themselves?
- “As a ‘rule of thumb,’ avoid having fun at the expense of others. Seriously, if they’re not laughing, it isn’t funny.”
- I do not think much of this “Rule of Thumb.” I have included it as a consideration point but not as a governing rule.
- Are Darwin Award winners and nominees funny? I think so, and my wife, though, does not. I find Jeff Dunham and Bill Engvall are hilarious; my wife does not. This separation in senses of humor has been constant in our marriage, but it does not mean we do not find humor together; it merely means we choose differently what makes us laugh. Thus, the “Rule of Thumb” is not correct or applicable everywhere.
- “Our world does have an overabundance of people that do take themselves and others way too seriously. However, there are also pockets of people who will get or understand your humor.”
- The main point as to why the “Rule of Thumb” is not a good rule, people choose what is and what is not funny. That choice is personal, and that choice has natural consequences.
What is a person to do to enjoy more levity?
Before my injuries took me, when I needed more levity in my life, I would skip. Funniest thing you can imagine, a grown man, on an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer which happens to have low ceilings (overheads), skipping. It brought levity to me and a lot of funny stories to others. Like the time I smacked my head into the overhead hard enough to see galaxies. Or the time I skipped too high to clear a low knife edge and drilled the upper knife-edge of a watertight door hard enough to clear my sinuses and darken my eyes. I can attest, though, skipping always brought me a euphoric mental attitude.
Learn a new joke weekly. Use it often! When my mother-in-law was in a long-term care facility, another patient’s kids would tell her dirty jokes, and I would tell her clean jokes, the best part of my week was trading jokes with a stranger. For example:
What did the pasta say to the green bean?
Answer: Penne for your thoughts.
Change your perception. I love hanging out with kids! When I spend enough time with kids, my perception changes, and I begin to see how they see the world. Then, the humor of the world hits me, and I laugh – a lot! For example, how funny is a squished animal on the road? Not very, right. Except to a couple of six-year-old boys, this is the coolest find, and the jokes write themselves when their sister walks into her room and finds that animal remains! Priceless!
While learning a new joke weekly, always have some “Dad” or “Mom” jokes handy! I was outraged, and I did not want to be in a meeting, I did not want to present; I was mentally disconnected and madder than a wet chicken with hemorrhoids. I learned an amazing lesson at that moment, “Dad” Jokes are awesome, and having one ready at a moment’s notice makes the best ice breaker and mind changer.
What did the fish say when he with a wall?
As I got to the podium, I stumbled and a “Damn” fumbled out of my mouth. The person farthest from the podium asked what? I said, “That was what the fish said when he hit a wall.” You could have heard a pin drop. Then the laughter got started, and someone told another “Dad” Joke, which loosened the mood a little more. By the end of the “Dad” Joke session, I was in a better mood, the room was more relaxed, and that meeting was memorable for being productive. Never waste an opportunity to pull a “Dad” Joke on someone!
I used to play the clarinet by ear; I learned it was easier to play by hand.
Until I moved from Albuquerque, NM, in 2020, I owned a hat. Better, this hat had bells, it had palm frond branches, it was multi-colored, and my wife of 20-years never thought I would wear this hat in public. She lost that bet; I have pictures!
Meme’s, especially the funny ones, can add a new level to a PowerPoint. During my undergraduate degree program, I had a PowerPoint Assignment, and the minimum was 12 slides, minus the reference and introduction slide. I had 11 slides and could not find a way to create one more slide. On slide seven, I found a picture of a bear in Nevada, who had climbed behind the seat of a gorgeous car, cherry red, chrome, beautiful car. The owner had a pizza and beer in the car, and I had this slide play a total of three seconds to crawl across the screen. The owner claimed that the bear ate his pizza and drank his bear before leaving the car. I laughed all week, awaiting my score; I laugh today from the comments and the responses. Having a ready supply of humorous pictures, memes, images are the absolute best trick to play on someone.
I have a challenge for you, find something funny, share it! Repeat! Repeat! Keep doing this for a month and see if you have changed. I heard this joke…
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.