Sunday, May 6, 2012

Laughter: Part 2

Sunday Service Discussion Notes for May 6, 2012

Last week we concluded our discussion of Laughter. Click here to read the summary of the previous week's discussion on this topic.

In our previous Laughter discussion, we left off with the question, "How does one develop the ability to identify what is funny, and to find humor in daily life?" Here were some of the answers that the group offered:

We need to maintain a sense of perspective in order to find the humorous side of situations. Realizing the old saw, "One day we'll be able to look back on this and laugh," may help us to be able to laugh about it right now as well.  Once we realize that we each have lots more living to do, we can see that maybe a current situation isn't so bad overall.

We should develop the ability to laugh at ourselves, and to not take things so seriously all the time. We agreed that the ability to "lighten up" about ourselves; to let go of some of our ego, would make us more likely to be able to laugh at other circumstances as well, and generally put us in a better mood, as we won't feel as though we constantly have to defend ourselves from perceived slights and embarrassments.

Another way that we can find and enjoy the lighter side of life is to remove or at least let up on our own personal filters. Sometimes we may see something that triggers an initial reaction of amusement, but our inner filter tells us that we are being immature or inappropriate; that it is not acceptable to find humor in this situation. This can prevent us from sharing our thoughts with others, of from even entertaining and enjoying the humor on our own. We may find that if we follow our first reactions and allow ourselves to laugh at things, and even share them with others, that we are laughing a lot more, and now our friends are having a good time as well. Even if we second guess ourselves and think that our own thoughts may be silly or odd, we may discover that we are not alone once we voice them to a friend, making a positive connection with another person.

A natural progression of the last suggestion, is that we should stop "viewing everything as an intelligence test;" in that we should worry less about being judged by others. Our egos make us concerned with how we appear to others and this can be a constant burden of fear and stress that does more harm than good. We may be able to begin taking ourselves less seriously if we remove the worry that others may judge us. We must say to ourselves, "So they are judging me. So what?" We typically find that other people are more accepting than we imagine them to be.

Another participant suggested that we find a "go-to" source for smiles and laughter. This might be a favorite movie to watch, a website, visiting a comedy club, or spending time with a friend or relative that makes us laugh. Whenever you are feeling down or stressed, turn to this source to lift your spirits.

A different suggestion was to inject more physical activity into our day. One participant noted that when they work out and get their heart pumping, and their body begins to release endorphins, that they are in a much better, lighter mood at the end.

We discussed how laughter is infectious. A few participants had seen a some video links posted on our Facebook page showing a man with "the funniest laugh in the world," and just their viewing of the video, watching another person laugh, was able to put them in a better mood. In one of the videos (below) the man was escorted around a workplace and we are able to watch as he cheers up everyone in the offices with his laugh.

In a second video (below), the same man was picked out of a comedy club audience as a volunteer and the comedian in charge can barely proceed with his act because he can't help but laugh.

A story was told about how someone moved into a new neighborhood and the neighbors all warned him about one man whom everyone said was a grouchy person, best to be avoided. When the new neighbors approached this man with warmth and openness, they discovered that underneath the gruff exterior he was really a very nice man. The majority of other people on the block had been repelled, however, by the persona that he appeared to have in public. This showed us that being open and light-hearted attracts other people to you, while having a grumpy, cool exterior pushes people away.  It also reminds us not to judge people based on first impressions or hearsay.

One of the final points that was made what that a sense of humor makes life's sometimes difficult lessons easier to take. We are all going to have to learn certain lessons in our lives, and we agreed that it would be much less stressful to learn them if we can laugh about the situation.

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