April is a humor month! So in this blog post, I want to talk about “how to use humor productively”
Jeff Bezos has such a nice laugh that invites others to laugh.
Successful people laugh more!?
Being able to laugh is so powerful. Perhaps, Jeff Bezos who I’d imagine has to face a lot of tough problems running one of the biggest world’s businesses in the world, laughs the way he does.
Creating a joke out of failure is perhaps the most powerful thing. In fact, there is a story about Jeff that I shared in the video above. The comment he made after losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
"If you think that's a big failure, we're working on much bigger failures right now. And I am not kidding.”
Joking about failures we made ourselves is such a powerful way not to let the situation dictates us with an overwhelming amount of guilt and negativity.
I talk A LOT about how to deal with negativity and one of the key points I always like to emphasize is not to get overwhelmed by dramatic emotion at any given moment.
We are all emotional animals and we tend to exaggerate our emotions when we face adversity. A.K.A, we start looking at a situation worst than how it actually is.
So the first step is to understand that we should take a negative situation as is, not worst than it is.
Then there is a second step which is to be able to look at the failure with a light-heartedness. Then what this does to our psychology is to help us create a sense of perseverance.
A while back, I recorded a podcast with a Phoenix-based comedian and host of A Comedy Advice Podcast, Stephan
Podcast about how to use humor to make perseverance with Stephan
I asked, Stephan, how can we productively use humor? ( How can we use humor when we face failure and adversity?)
Then we started thinking about what makes people laugh. - The simple answer is that we create connection and empathy through humor. Laughing occurs when there is an imperfection. It is not laughable when someone exposes themselves for how perfect they are. Laughing occurs because, in an imperfect story, there is something relatable to the story from the audience’s perspective. - “Sharing vulnerability.”
By laughing about our imperfections together, we can feel that we are not alone and create a sense of connectedness. Like how Charles Bukowski said:
“We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other… -- Charles Bukowski
Admitting our imperfection and sharing our vulnerability gives us a sense of union not separation.
And when we can feel that we are not alone in a situation, all of a sudden we can also feel more motivated.
Let's dig deeper into the benefits of laughter! This article explains this.
The benefits of laughter
Laughter takes off bitterness and resentment out of your frustration. Looking at the funny side of the problems allows us to put the situation into perspective and let us take off stress out of the situation.
Laughter stops us from being stressed at the moment. We cannot be happy and angry simultaneously. When the situation feels overwhelming and out of control. Start from physical change. Laugh!
Laughter helps us relax and recharge. Laughter reduces stress and increases our energy. Laughing after a stressful time can pivot our energy and can bring us back the focus we need to start over.
Laughter helps us see the situation in a more realistic and less threatening way. As I mentioned earlier, being able to find humor in a threatening situation can be powerful because by doing so, we can create a psychological distance from the situation and realize that it’s really not all that bad. Even better, all of a sudden we find out that the problem that felt so threatening to us was actually a problem that many experience by sharing a laugh about it.
So not only laugher helps us feel at ease about a stressful situation but also can create opportunities for us to connect with others in the same situations.
Now, let’s look at the benefits of laughter on the body.
Laughter relaxes the whole body and triggers the release of endorphins. Laughter releases physical tension and stress. On top of it, laughter triggers the body to release endorphins which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and they can even temporarily kill physical pain.
Laughter even boots the immune system. Laughter decreases stress while increasing immune cell and infection-fighting antibodies therefore, it promotes immunity.
Laughter protects the good health of the heart! Our heart’s well-being can be protected by laughter because it improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which protects us from having heart problems.
I felt excited and happy to read all these benefits. Now how should we understand this?
Someone once said; “Life is not about figuring out everything, Life is about figuring out how to use our confusion to our best benefits.” - I think the answer is here.
Nobody knows what the “right answer” is because there is no such thing. We can have a tremendous dedication and responsibility to something and that is fantastic. But in the end, I also hope that nothing should be as painful as someone taking their own lives from failing at a thing that they are so dedicated to accomplishing or feel responsible for. Sometimes, our life’s commitment can get pretty overwhelming and it’d be devastating to fail at something that we feel we are supposed to get.
But my intuition says that we don’t have to take life too seriously all the time - we have things we can control and things we can not control including mistakes that have already been made by us ( and by others). It could be tough to find a way to get back up sometimes, but we have to because there is no other way.
One way I tend to look at hardships is with practicality. Then I look at it with an optimistic view. For me to get there, I’d have to attain the sense of “life is not that serious” attitude. This thinking really helps me to be courageous and keep being courageous. I have a feeling that the laughter exactly demonstrates this. By creating laugh we can look at the problems with the just right amount of seriousness and get back the focus that we need to persevere when things get really tough and painful.
So let’s share a laugh and celebrate life :)! Today we laugh at our own failures together and tomorrow we get out there and start again!