|Why It's Important to Keep Your Sense of Humor
It's not too hard to see why it's essential to keep our sense of humor. When we are in a humorous state of mind, we feel good. And feeling good helps us with everything!
You can probably remember a time when sharing a joke with friends or laughing at yourself for something silly you did or said, immediately lightened the mood of the moment. Humor relaxes us and helps us let go of unnecessary seriousness.
Your sense of humor is an aspect of your aliveness. It is not something you have to crank up. A humorous comment can shift an argument in an instant. In one moment of humor, we can instantly snap out of a dark mental state. This is because the essence of humor is the unrestricted flow of our living being. So it's not surprising that sharing humor and laughter is also good for your health . . .
Health Benefits of a Sense of Humor
Whenever we think about anything, we create rigid stories of various intensity. "He's not listening to me!" or "Why does she always say something negative?" We tend to get trapped in these stories because they make us forget the constant, spacious flow of being. A humorous comment can puncture the wall of an all-too-serious story or dismantle it altogether. Then we laugh. We take deep breaths. We relax. And most importantly, we come back to the felt sense of our humanity, our soft and compassionate human heart.
When we understand these positive effects of humor, we recognize that humor is a special kind of wisdom. When we are enjoying humor, there is nothing to cling tightly to, nothing to get trapped in. Humor doesn't have to be a joke that results in a big belly laugh. It can simply be a humorous reframe at a difficult time. If we suffer a great loss, a sense of humor saves us from a "poor me" mentality and enables us to suffer uprightly with tenderness, kindness, and clarity. Humor is the essential strength of fearless, healthy grieving.
Feeling good, light-hearted and humorous is a sign that you are not in a conflicted or anxious state, at least for that moment. When we are not conflicted, our life energy is free to flow naturally. As any yoga instructor, dancer, or Olympic athlete will tell you, free-flowing energy feels good. Humor is flow. You simply cannot create a rigid, conflicted state of mind while while you are actively flowing in relationship to yourself and others. Think of this flow of humor as enjoying riding on the breath of life. Moment by moment, wave upon wave.
Think back to the last time you were in humorous mental state. You were free. You weren't clinging to your beliefs about how things are or how you wanted them to be. And you weren't worried about how you looked to others. Letting ourselves experience this state of freedom on a regular basis is an act of kindness to ourselves and to others too, because when we let down our seriousness, our good-hearted humor can be communicated.
Good humor is always a loving energy and it always feels good to share it. Humor is loving kindness in action.
If we think a sense of humor is a "thing" that we have to search for or create, we may have a hard time connecting with humor when we need it most. Being genuine and relaxed with ourselves, we easily embody life's essential humorous and joyful nature.
6 Steps To Reconnecting With Your Sense of Humor
1. Throughout the day, practice taking frequent moments to reset yourself in your body. Just being presently relaxed, with a gentle smile. Practice enjoying being alive. Gratitude depends on enjoyment. First we enjoy receiving the gift of life, and that inspires us to feel gratitude for it. Enjoyment and gratitude keep you at ease and build a vibrant capacity for you to respond to life with kind humor.
2. Then, to disrupt the "boxing in" quality of your thinking mind and any negative thoughts, practice "standing outside" yourself. Imagine you are a ball of awareness or light. Float outside of and all around your body. Look at "their" posture and mental state from various angles as you float around them. Look with curiosity and affection, noticing whether they have forgotten to keep an affectionate regard for themselves. Let them feel your warm encouragement.
3. Ask yourself, "Do they really need to hold on to this?" "Would anything bad happen if this person just smiled, stood up straight and at ease, and exclaimed, "Ha!" and went about their business with good cheer? After you answer this question, try saying a good strong "Ha!"
4. Notice the general tonality of any negative thoughts. Listen to these thoughts as if they are being spoken by someone who has just inhaled helium.
5. When you notice a negative train of thought, ask, "Who is speaking to me this way?" Then imagine them standing on their head as they speak. (Make sure you're still imagining them speaking in a helium voice)
6. Develop a habit of stopping and looking at your thoughts with a smile. Then take three deep, easy breaths, and stretch. Enjoy your body for a few seconds!
What If You're Experiencing Intense Suffering?
At times you may be intensely suffering with a painful illness or with intense grief. If this is happening for you, do not make light of your suffering in a mocking way. Have compassion for yourself. In the atmosphere of compassion, you can find little ways to lighten up and "get out of yourself." This is not denial of your pain, it is a kindness to yourself. Remember, suffering with self respect (no "poor me") is the wisdom of humor in action, as you keep your heart soft and your kindness flowing.
A friend of mine told me about a time when he was in a state of intense physical pain. He began asking himself if any part of his body was free of pain. He discovered that his little toe was not in pain. Then he discovered his other toes were not in pain. Then he started congratulating each of his toes on not being in pain. Good for you! And you, and you, and you . . . . He succeeded in entering a kind, humorous state even though he was in quite a lot of pain. He did this in a good-hearted way, free of any sense of sarcasm or ridicule.
Do we have anything to lose by developing an attitude that we are bigger than any challenge? The humorous resilient aspect of our being makes this possible.
Do we have anything to lose by practicing smiling at fear and disappointment and renewing our spirit daily under any circumstances? The humorous aspect of being is fearlessness and strength. It embodies the wisdom that no obstacle can remain in our way forever. Humor responds to obstacles with perseverance and without complaint.
Once someone asked the Dalai Lama how he could be so cheerful and kind, and how he could laugh so much, when his home country had been taken from him and thousands of his people had been killed. He replied that he couldn't stop them from taking everything away from him on the outside, but he clearly understood that it was his own choice and ability to keep his inner life rich and free and cheerful.
When we realize that no one else can take our inner life away from us without our agreement, we too can set an absolutely strong intention to cultivate a loving, happy heart every day, even in the midst of our challenges.
May you and all your toes experience great success!