Why do we laugh, it can be for different reasons and survival needs which are held deep within our psyche. In laughter yoga and community laughter clubs, we treat laughter as a form of exercise and we do it because of the many health benefits. It is good for us from the well documented physical viewpoint, lowering blood pressure, helping one to relax, the many physical benefits using it as a form of exercise, which is as physical as rowing a boat.You can read more about the benefits of laughter yoga on my webpage.
Various Types of Laughter
There are various reasons and types of natural laughter. Some may seem on the surface to be genuine, yet they can be habitual, covering up discomfort, embarrassment, inability to communicate and so forth. Laughter is of greater benefit if we do it with awareness and consciously, rather than using it as a fill in for an uncomfortable situation. We have the opportunity to attend to our needs, that is monitor and then address how often we laugh as a fill in activity, to avoid confrontation or whatever. That is if we wish to and have the means to improve how we relate both with ourselves and with other people.
People find it easier to laugh in a group and even I laugh less alone, although it is recommended doing laughter exercises by yourself, to ensure that you do receive your daily dose of beneficial laughter for the body. Usually we laugh with other people when we feel comfortable with them and there is trust. Laughter creates more laughter due to its contagious and expansive nature.
We can also laugh with our peers in order to be accepted instead of being singled out or seen to be different. This need to belong with other people is a basic and beneficial need to fulfil, that of belonging. In those with a healthy, fairly balanced disposition.
And yet we can laugh so quickly in order to fit in that if we actually stopped and monitored our true feelings, we may not even find it laugh-worthy at all, as the need to belong and fit in is a powerful need held by many.
Some other reasons why we laugh are related to three traditionally held theories about what we find is humorous. These three theories are:-
Incongruity – This is when things that seem logical and familiar are altered to be things that don’t normally go together. Often things are funny when we expect one outcome and something else happens, such as a joke starting, we anticipate the outcome which may be through logical thought, emotions or past experiences. Then the joke or situation changes and we have to alter ourselves to perceive it. This can throw us and we experience incongruity.
Superiority – We find ourselves laughing at jokes which are at the expense of another person’s mistake, accident or misfortune. In this one we usually feel superior, feeling some detachment from the situation and have a good laugh, sometimes in gratitude that it is not happening to us or maybe we have been in that situation ourselves when we were less superior than we are now.
Relief – We can use humour in a stressful situation, sometimes and we have all heard of the saying ‘if I didn’t laugh, I would cry’. This takes the pressure off and even filmmakers heighten tensions and then introduce humour as a means of release from it. It can also be used in a darker sense, which may be appealing to many.
What makes you laugh? I would like to introduce the matter of discernment, which is when we follow our knowing of what feels right, a gut instinct and it can flow from ethics and morals. I am suggesting that you may like to journal, simply write freely, about what laughter means to you and examine when you do it and why. If you find that it is lacking awareness and I have often spoken about being in the moment, mindful, grounded and present, then it may be of interest to you to do something about it in order to learn to laugh more appropriately.
For instance if you feel comfortable around someone and laugh or feel uncomfortable within yourself, doubting and lacking confidence perhaps, this would be an opportunity to understand that acting happy and spontaneously laughing can be a cover up. I knew someone once who was loud and full of laughter when in fact over time that person revealed that in fact, they were very shy and had developed mannerisms by which to help her cope. There is no judgment, we all learn behaviours and habits which help our self-preservation.
If you wish to email me, I would be delighted to email you a document such as ‘Feeling is Healing’. Also you are invited to contact me for chat first to see what would be best, as there are several resources available and it is enough to begin with one.
I am available for either laughter yoga or holistic living counselling sessions and lead the free community Ferntree Gully Laughter Club which you are most welcome to attend.
Phone me on 0425 799 258 or email me to make contact, or to receive my monthly email newsletter, sign up on Laughter For Living.
Disclaimer: This post is written from my personal understanding and experience and is not to be misconstrued in any way. Advice given is general and as I am not a medical doctor, take no responsibility for how it is received, my intention is that articles will be supportive and assist in living a more holistic life.