Abraham Lincoln, the great American president, was giving a speech once when one of his fiercest opponents angrily interrupted him and accused him of being “two-faced.” Abe, unfazed by the man’s insult, calmly replied “If I had two faces, would I choose to wear this one?”
Abe seamlessly diffused what was a serious and potentially dangerous situation by injecting some humour into it. You see, he had a quality most people don’t – he knew how to laugh at himself and at threatening situations!
I can be a bit serious-minded. (Okay, maybe a lot.) But I also love to laugh. When I find myself becoming too serious, I go on YouTube or Facebook and look for pranks and jokes that make me laugh and laugh and laugh. Or, my husband tickles me (despite many stern protestations!) until I loosen up. It’s because we both understand that to enjoy a fulfilling marriage that stays happy long after the “Oh, I’m so in love I can’t sleep, I can’t eat” phase, a regular dose of laughter must be injected into it.
Henry Ward Beecher said something profound: “A marriage without a sense of humour is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.” In other words, a relationship that is too serious will be tossed to and fro by every challenge that comes, big or small, and will eventually topple.
Among other reasons, here’s why you should make laughter a priority in your life and in your relationships:
1. Laughter diffuses tension
Have you ever tried to argue with someone who won’t argue back but chooses to laugh instead? I have, it’s annoying! At first. But then you very quickly find your guard dropping and eventually laughing with them. Keeping a light and playful tone will diffuse arguments before they gather enough momentum to take off.
2. Laughter helps in overcoming setbacks
If you can find humour in adversity, you can survive it. In the face of challenges I’ve learnt to stop asking my husband, “Why are you laughing?” and just join in. When you laugh at a problem you remove its sting. The dark cloud looming over your mind and threatening to swallow you up dissolves away and you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Laughter improves the mood and energises the body
Scientists have shown that the physical act of laughing releases endorphins into the brain and central nervous system. Endorphins produce feelings of happiness and an increased sense of physical well-being. The bible puts it this way: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT) The amazing this is, even if you don’t feel like laughing you can fake it! Research has shown that the human body cannot differentiate between a fake laugh and a real one – you get the full benefits either way.