Sometimes humor is the best weapon we have for fighting despair. In the moments we are laughing, we cannot feel despair.  Humor momentarily interrupts ruminating and worrying about how something has gone or how something will go in the future.  Certainly, there are times when grief, anger, physical and emotional pain function as emotional barriers impervious to humor. Yet when those states pass, there is usually a little crack through which humor can enter.  Humor is healing. It provides us with a temporary escape from the painful realities and circumstances of our lives; plus, it’s fun!

I am not sure anyone can define what is funny or why something is funny to one person but not at all funny to someone else.  There are so many types of humor: dry humor, good-natured humor, self-deprecating humor, sarcastic humor, slapstick physical humor, and intellectual humor to name a few.  There is even something called “gallows humor” that allows people like surgeons, undertakers, and first responders to cope with the incredible intensity of their work by occasionally making light of it.

We each develop our own sense of humor and some of us are better at generating humor while almost all of us can respond to humor and feel ourselves and the world around us temporarily lighten. Some of us are quicker to see the humor in things than others. It is important not to mistake laughing about something serious with not taking it seriously.  Death, illness, political strife, COVID-19, war, and climate change are not laughing matters, but that is when the ability to laugh is most essential.  Perhaps the most helpful type of humor is the ability to laugh about ourselves.  We all have foibles, neuroses, we do embarrassing things and make dumb mistakes. It is called “being human”.  When we can laugh at ourselves, we are never short of something to entertain us.

Questions for the group:

  • Do you feel that you have a sense of humor and are you able to occasionally laugh at even the difficult circumstances in your life?
  • Are you a person who laughs easily, who finds many things funny as you move through your day-to-day life?
  • What types of humor appeal to you? Share a couple of favorite movies, books, or comedians you find especially entertaining.
  • Talk about humor as a coping strategy and how it has worked for you.
  • Are you able to make others laugh? What is it about humor that makes laughter helpful and healing?

All rights reserved © 2021 Beth Firestein, Ph.D.                    Wise Women Group