Laughter is a great medicine, and anyone missing out on the benefits is missing a lot. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” But, sadly, many people fail to inject laughter into their everyday lives. The reasons for a joyless life are varied, and one is isolation. You don’t have to worry about being isolated at our senior living community. Whatever the reason for cheerlessness, you can turn things around.
If you rarely ever laugh, it could be because your humor is choked out by negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Don’t worry, though. You can take charge of your life and find your laughter again. The following are other possible reasons you may have trouble laughing:
- Instead of relaxing and enjoying the humor of a joke or situation, you instead apply judgment about whether it is worthy of your laughter or notice who is laughing and who isn’t. In doing so, you miss out on the benefits of joviality.
- You may be involved in a sort of image management, in which you become inflexible. Concern over your image overrides the potential joy of a moment.
- Experiences you had as a child may have instilled a confusion about the ability to laugh when you are simultaneously experiencing sadness, struggle, or pain. Good advice is found in another Charlie Chaplin quote: “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!”
- Laughter is a bold action that makes us vulnerable, and you may be uncomfortable with allowing your true self and your wit be seen by others.
Children and Laughter
According to research, children laugh more than 300 times daily, while adults average 20 laughs per day. What happens between childhood and adulthood to squelch the laughter? There is a steady progression through life of what initiates giggles. Of course, hard knocks also occur throughout life, which could be a reason for the natural decrease in laughter that occurs by adulthood. But seeing less humor in life could simply be because of worldly sophistication that occurs as we age, judging from what makes children laugh:
- Babies laugh at non-typical behavior. Unpredictable outcomes, such as peek-a-boo, putting a sock on the hand, or a jack-in-the-box toy, can elicit belly laughs from an infant.
- Toddlers enjoy silly wordplay and funny rhyming. Making funny faces may be all it takes to put a 2-year-old in stitches.
- Knock-knock jokes and riddles are favorites of elementary school kids.
Ask a Comedian
Making adults laugh is arguably difficult for most people. For this reason, a consistently funny comedian can be a rare phenomenon. It doesn’t help that in a comedy club type of situation, the audience has an expectation of laughter, which creates an air of judgment, an undeniable laugh blocker. Perhaps this aspect of laughter makes it an even more valuable commodity. When our lives and society itself become somewhat joyless, we can find ourselves very pleasantly surprised when our funny bones are tickled.
What makes a particular adult laugh is largely dependent on the individual, his (or her) point of view, his life experiences, and his value system. With that in mind, it’s obvious why a comedian has a challenging job. Getting laughs depends on who is in the audience and can relate to the comic material, unless the comedian has a knack for delivering funny lines with universal appeal.
While we don’t want to set ourselves up to think laughter is a difficult benefit to come by, the fact is that the dynamics of invoking laughter have been found to be somewhat complicated. Anger, for instance, is very simple and straightforward: You blame someone else when something bad happens to you. Guilt is also easy: It occurs when you blame yourself because something bad has happened to someone else. Some proven formulas for evoking laughter follow:
- The superiority theory, in which people laugh at others’ misfortunes. Slapstick and teasing humor fit with this premise.
- Revered psychologist Sigmund Freud came up with a relief theory, which is that laughter helps people overcome inhibitions and release psychological tension. He also believed that a person’s laughter reveals suppressed desires and fears. His theory applies well to off-color jokes but not so much to humorous puns.
- The majority of experts are in agreement that variations of the incongruity theory explain a lot about what makes people laugh. The incongruity theory is the idea that people laugh when there is an inconsistency between what people expect and what actually happens. Jokes with great punch lines fit well with this theory.
Overanalyzing is one of the ways to stop the flow of laughter. So, moving on, in the next segment of this series, learn about specific ways to inject more humor into your life, including how to improve your sense of humor. Our residents at Discovery Villages have a lot of opportunities to enjoy life, but you can never have too much laughter.
Discovery Village at Sugarloaf offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 770.884.7686.