Power of Humor - Find the Lighter Side in Life

Feb 29, 2016 -

Last May, three of my college friends and I embarked on a journey to the downunder to find our Australian accented soulmates or our Jayesslees. Don't tell me their accents are not attractive. While the four of us were good friends, this would be the first international trip where we would be together for an extended period of time. The most time we've spent together as a group prior might have been four hours max, when we played Taboo or Settlers of Catan into the wee night after a long day frolicking in the rain. Spending time with each other once a month is much different than seeing someone's fact every minute of the day for ten days non-stop. Now I don't mean we are literally staring right in each other's faces for ten days straight, thought that would be quite hilarious. This trip to Australia would inevitably be the first real test of our friendships. If we don't pass, we would all de-friend each other on Facebook.

To cut to the chase, the trip had its ups and downs. We had an open unplanned Sunday morning. One of my friends was adamant about visiting a swap meet. While we all agreed, we did not have any information as to whether or not there was a swap meet nearby or at all. Without any swap meet details, the group largely dismissed her request. All the while, she had gotten ready to leave the hotel to go to a swap meet. You can imagine how confused the group was when she asked everyone why nobody looked up a nearby swap meet. Well heck, if you want to go to a swap meet and nobody else was dying to go, take initiative and find one yourself! We are all adults here. Eventually, one of us in the group found a swap meet and managed to make a great experience out of it all. 

"Humor leads to laughter, which releases endorphin that allow us to endure and triumph over pain. Recent studies have showed that laughter increases creatively, improves health, and strengthens relationships."

While there were may other conflicts and trivial issues such as the swap meet incident, most of us remember the humorous events. For example, my friend running across the beach and then slipping and almost falling on his face. The time when my friend and I acted like monkeys trying to climb up a coconut tree just because we wanted the satisfaction of picking our own coconuts.Though we failed miserably. Also, the time when we ended up sharing a laugh with an expat who had adopted the Australian accent just two weeks in to her stay. How is all of this relevant? We tend to be drawn towards more of the humors events than the serious and unpleasantries in life.

Professor Jennifer Aaker of Stanford Business School shared some insightful finds on the power of humor. Humor leads to laughter, which releases endorphin that allow us to endure and triumph over pain. Recent studies have showed that laughter increases creatively, improves health, and strengthens relationships

Psychologists Alice Isen and her colleagues asked participants to solve a classic candle task whereby they were given a box of matches, a box with tacks and a candle. Can they attach the candle on to a nearby wall without letting the candle when lit to drip to the table below. She and her colleagues broke the participants into two groups. One group watched a short humorous video and the other a neutral video. You may be able to guess what the results were. Those who watched the humorous video prior to working on the candle task were more likely to solve the candle task then those who watched the neutral video. The solution to the candle task is taking the box and tacking it on the wall. Then putting the candle in the box and finally lighting the candle. 

In another study, a group of participants who were shown clips from a stressful movie such as Saving Private Ryan and two days later they were shown clips from a humor movie called KingPin. Blood flow was measured prior to the viewing of the clips and afterwards. Guess what? Blood flow increased by 20% after watching clips from KingPin! 

Humor helps strengthen relationships. In a recent study, couples were asked to reminisce about times where they've shared memories and then times when they've laughed together. Couple who recall laughing together were more fond of each other. 

There you have it, laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Find the humorous side of life. You'll be able to improve your health, become stronger mentally, and build stronger relationships. 

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