It’s laughter that makes life so much better

The Free Dictionary defines sense of humor as “the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; “she didn’t appreciate my humor;” “you can’t survive in the army without a sense of humor.”

Life on Trip Earth has its challenges, and it is literally a world where everything consumes everything else (even humans get consumed by worms, sea creatures or fire). Nobody gets out of here alive, but while we’re here, developing a sense of humor and seeing things in a more humorous way can make “Trip Earth” a lot more fun. Since it’s coming up on the holiday season, which we all need to help us all lighten up, why not learn to develop a little sense of humor. My grandfather, uncle and cousin all have terrific senses of humor, and were always a joy to be around. A laugh is good for everyone. It’s even recommended in the Bible in Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

At http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/The-healing-power-of-humor-172649.php we learn that laughter has been “scientifically proven to reduce pain, strengthen our immune systems, decrease stress, lower blood pressure while improving circulation, helps us put life’s trials and tribulations into healthy perspective by making them seem less significant, aids us in over coming fear, allows us to take ourselves less seriously, and triggers our creativity.” What possible drug could do all that? So it’s worth looking at developing humor to make our lives better.

On Kauai, we have “Laughter Yoga.” I’ve attended Laughter Yoga sessions and it really does help you feel better! It meets at the Lihue Neighborhood Center. Contact Lucy Miller for more information about it at drlucy@hawaii.rr.com.

The television show “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has been a gift for many. People from everywhere send in their own funny videos arising from their mishaps, mistakes, physical accidents, silly pet antics and even practical jokes. There is a contest and people vote on the funniest one of the night, which wins $10,000! People of all ages and ethnic groups show themselves being human, and because of it, the population as a whole has become a little less self-conscious and a little less judgmental of their own and other’s mistakes. If I drop my ice cream cone and a dog gets to it first, I can just say, “Too bad I didn’t have a video of that, I could have made some good money on it!” To watch some clips of the show go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/AFVofficial. It’s a good way to balance out stress.

It’s quite possible to develop a sense of humor. There are many websites on it. One of them is “Tips to Developing a Sense of Humor You Can Be Funny Without Trying Too Hard”.

“A laugh results when a comedian (you) creates tension with a story and then releases the tension with a punch line. The trick is to get your audience interested in the outcome of your tale and then ending it with the unexpected. (”One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” -Groucho Marx)

If you don’t have that many of your own funny stories, memorize some great jokes. I Googled funny jokes and 91,200,000 websites popped up. Stan Hein listed some tips for developing your funny bone. I’ve included a few: 

• If you can’t be funny, be playful. Funny will follow.

• Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

• Incorporate the element of surprise into your stories.

• Look for the absurdity around you.

• Listen to funny people and pay attention to their delivery.

• Join a “joke of the day” website.

• Never start a joke by saying “I’ve got a great joke for you”. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Let your audience decide.

• Have fun, relax, be yourself 

M. Farouk Radwan, MSc. article, “How to Develop a Sense of Humor” at http://www.2knowmyself.com/How_to_develop_a_sense_of_humor shares that people who have a sense of humor are perceived to be more attractive to others, but also are perceived to be risk takers.

Did you get that? You could be more attractive to others! It takes courage to get up in front of people and tell a story or joke. What if they don’t get it? Well, they might not, but how you tell it has a lot to do with it. I have a dear friend who would tell OK stories, but he thought they were so funny that he would laugh like crazy, and laughter is contagious, so soon we’d all be laughing.

Think about it. With all things being equal, would you rather have a friend who was into drama and serious stuff all the time, or a friend who was upbeat, encouraging, and who made you laugh sometimes?

If you say the second, you’re the same as most people. In working with teens I’ve heard mostly girls, but some boys tell me that they were just sick of other peoples’ drama. We all have enough of our own, and it’s better to become solution oriented, and work on solving the problems than just bringing everyone down with them. Get help if you need it, but go to the right people.

Fear of taking risks can be caused by shyness or just being afraid of being in front of people, or even around people. Start a little at a time. Comedians often practice saying a new joke in front of a mirror. Then they may even video themselves for full body image feedback. Then they begin to tell a story to friends and family and see how it works out.

Watch comedians

Every article I looked up said to watch comedians, and You Tube makes that really easy to do. When you laugh, ask yourself what it was that made the joke funny.

Do not make fun of other people who have conditions that can’t be helped, such as developmental delay, autism, or a physical disability. People are basically kind hearted, and don’t like it. Besides, you don’t know if they have relatives with these conditions!

Now I’ve heard fat comedians tell their fat stories, and that’s OK, because they are laughing at themselves and inviting you to do so. Using dirty words isn’t impressive either. Jerry Seinfeld is one of the world’s greatest comedians and doesn’t use them.

Radwan suggests that jokes that resonate with people’s thoughts, beliefs and current situations make them laugh more. In Alexandria, people are famous for reckless driving, so people can relate to reckless driving jokes because they’ve experienced it. In Hawaii, I’ve heard jokes about not understanding the people over the speakers at fast food restaurants!

Tips on being funny

The last article to help develop humor is a compilation of 12 authors’ tips. [http://www.wikihow.com/Develop-a-Sense-of-Humor]

I’m listing the ones that haven’t already been suggested:

1. Observe life. Life offers many humorous moments; you need to be watching out for them and taking note of them.

2. Talk more often. If you do not have a sense of humor, you may be shy. To get over this, try talking to at least 10 people (boys and girls) a day. You can even compliment them to start a conversation. If you aren’t comfortable talking to peers, talk to your younger sibling’s friends, or your parent’s friends. This will get you comfortable enough to talk more often.

3. Watch comedies and read funny articles. Try to watch romantic comedies, regular comedies, and go on websites like mylifeisaverage.com and fmylife.com. Pay attention to the witty jokes. Eventually, you will understand why others think some things are so funny.

4. Ask funny friends for tips and tricks on how they improved their humor. Watch out though, some people are just born this way!

5. Lighten up. If you’re taking things too seriously, it’s too hard to be funny. Stop viewing everything as an intelligence test and start seeing the lighter side of life.

6. Open up! Smile more often. When you open yourself up, you will begin to see things you haven’t seen before!

The parties and family gatherings will be happening through the end of the year. May you laugh well and often. You’ll get a lot of funny material.

Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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