Of all my tools to combat depression and negativity, humor is by far the most fun. And just like mastering the craft of writing, I’m finding that the longer I practice laughing at life — and especially it’s frustrations — the better I become at it, and the more situations and conversations and complications I can place into that category named “silly.”
G. K. Chesterton once wrote: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” And Proverbs 17:22 says that “a happy heart is good medicine.” I’d add that human beings can heal (at least partially!) from a host of different illnesses if they learn how to laugh.
Here are just a few ways our bodies, minds, and spirits begin to mend with a dose of humor.
1. Humor combats fear.
I know this first hand, having sat in a community room of a psych ward watching a video of a comedian poke fun at depression. Like everyone else occupying a chair in that room, I was scared to death. Of many things… That I would never smile again. Or love again. Or even WANT to love again. I was fearful of life, and everything it involved.
That panic didn’t instantly transform into a hearty chuckle once the psych nurse popped in the funny video. But the climate of the room was noticeably different. Patients began to open up more, to share some of the details they had left out in the prior group therapy session.
Humor disengages fear because it changes your perspective: of the past and of the present. The traumatic childhood episode loses its tight grip on your heart if you can place it into the “ridiculous” category of other stories from the past. With a playful perspective, you can remove yourself from the marital problem that has you debilitated with anxiety. Laughter forces a few steps — some much-needed distance — between a situation and our reaction. We all would do well to follow the advice of Leo Buscaglia: “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!”