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Laughter Is The Best Medicine, But Why?

May 24, 2008
There are numerous reasons why we laugh and use humor in our lives. This impulse goes way back to the prehistoric days (I have read). Since that was a few years before my time (but unfortunately not too many years before my time), I will have to take archaeologists word for this phenomena. I remember loving to laugh as a child. My mom was the "sense of humor proprietor" of our home, and making her laugh, was especially fun, as she was a tough audience. Especially when I was in trouble, which was a majority of the time.

Humor principles are the same as they once were, in a nutshell, one person's tragedy is another person's comedy, aka slipping on a banana peel, still holds true to a certain degree. But audiences have gotten tougher, savvier, and more demanding, and rightfully they should. We live in a different world than our ancestors. We suddenly woke up in a world that was not quite as predictable as we were taught it would be in grade school. A day doesn't go by that people don't warn us, "We live in dangerous times, ya know."

In the past fifty years we have experienced wars, terrorism, space shuttle tragedies and much more. When I say "our", I mean the fringe side of the baby boomer generation. We are survivors to a certain degree. We have seen more wars than any generation before us. Our response can be to do nothing, or to keep living. Crying is fine, when it is appropriate, and finally relief and maybe some laughter. We have to have laughter as well as tears. It is our soul's "checks and balances" system. Or stay ambivalent. Laughing does not mean we are endorsing negative world events. It is merely a coping mechanism after the tears.

Tears are healthy. But to leave humor and laughter out of one's life can make it bleak and miserable. People go to therapy. Just because one has a sense of humor about life, does not make them immune from psychological services. But you can be rest assured it can be a deterrent for many. After all laughter, like running or walking is therapeutic. We release endorphins when we laugh, walk or run. Some do it all, walking laughing and running, albeit not all at once.

In my mid-twenties, I was employed by my father's real estate business. It was a thriving business, but one without much laughter. I was the youngest Realtor there, and I felt my job was to (continue) to be the class clown, as I had been in school. It was a nice, but staid bunch of folks. Basically, as in most sales situations, though there may be some altruism involved, money, or the bottom line is the focus. Don't get me wrong, I like money as much as the next guy. But I have keenly observed that, though there are plenty of very happy wealthy people, when people get into a business simply to make money, they end up highly disappointed. The people there wanted badly to laugh, but there was more sadness than joy, even when money flowed in.

Finally, after many years of working, but hating the work I felt forced to do, I left the sales, and struck out on my own. I had read a biography on Walt Disney, and how he started DisneylandI loved cartoon humor, still do, am not a great artist, so recruited a team of excellent illustrators and launched my own cartoon. That was a decade ago. I still love doing it. Not only do I get to (occasionally) give myself a laugh, but sometimes others as well. When working at something you love, whether its making people laugh or not, will make you happier inside, and those around you seem happier. And I am better when when my soul feels happy and lighter.
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