“Never lose your sense of humour; it’ll get you through whatever life throws at you” – Dad
There was a period of my life where I lost my sense of humour; it was a very, very bleak time. I was living in a country I didn’t feel good in, doing a highly stressful job, and having to walk away from the man I’d considered to be the love of my life for the past 5 years. Granted there wasn’t really much to be humourous about, but I didn’t even try – I had become so used to the feeling of my heart being sucked out of my body every waking minute and committing all my energy to retaining the constant flow of tears from my tired eyes in order to function in a vaguely normal way that I sort of forgot what humour and laughing were.
The consequences of living without humour make themselves felt fairly quickly; a greyish complexion sets in and you seem to age by the week – by the time I moved out I felt as though I had aged about 8,000 years. You withdraw, naturally, from people who bizarrely seem to find facets of this nightmare commonly known as life amusing, and who subsequently eye you and your haggard features with a mixture of pity, curiosity and distaste, as though they’re wondering if what you have might be infectious. Acquaintances retreat and only the hardiest of friends remain to listen to the self-absorbed moaning (because really, what else is there to do when everything totally and completely sucks?)
Humour is good because without it life can sometimes be very hard, because it encourages bonding with people who find the same weird things funny (and hence makes you feel like less of a weirdo), because it makes you smile (which causes the release of happy-hormones and makes you look better), because it makes you laugh (reduces stress and is good for abs. It is!), and because it can lift others up who also might need lifting. Humour is also a good thing to practice so that when the going gets tough you have a lightness mechanism in place, ready to attack and alleviate the hardship.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter” – E. E. Cummings
Here’s a cute little table outlining loads of reasons to laugh that I found on this website:
|The Benefits of Laughter|
|Physical Health Benefits:
||Mental Health Benefits:
Ok so here’s my one joke (think I stole it from Sarah Kaye):
“Why was the scarecrow invited to speak at TED?”
“Because he was out standing in his field“
Get it? Love :)
A few weeks after moving out, when I had settled into my darling little flat overlooking the lake in Zürich, I was on my way to work one morning when I suddenly remembered that this thing called humour existed. It was like a revelation and a relief and a gigantic surprise, all rolled into one; I still remember the exact spot I was at when it struck me, and I resolved there and then to make friends with it and spend as much time with it as I could. I remembered that I used to be funny, I used to have fun making people laugh, and most of all, that I used to derive endless amusement simply from observing the bizarre meanderings of my own mind.
I happily discovered that humour can be (re-)learnt, and after the initial weirdness of re-discovering my laugh wore off (I swear it didn’t use to sound so strange?!? Now it’s vaguely reminiscent of Janice from Friends, and there’s really nothing good about that…except that it makes me laugh even harder :)) I found myself actively looking for excuses to let it out as often as possible.
Some random tips to encourage laughter:
- Talk to a friend whilst lying on your back. Seriously.
- Hang upside down. Just. Try it.
- Ask yourself what Billy Connelly would say
- Make an effort to be ridiculous on a daily basis
- Read “The God of Cake” or anything else by the wonderful Allie Brosh
- Spend time with fun people
- Avoid gloomy, negative people
- Make laughter a habit
- Don’t take yourself or your life too seriously…it’s really all just a game
I’ll leave you with a naughty little chicken joke (because why not?…):
A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is leaning against the headboard smoking a cigarette with a satisfied smile on its face. The egg, looking a bit ticked off, grabs the sheet, rolls over and says … Well I guess we finally answered “THAT question!”