“We don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh”. William James.
In Ernest Kurtz’ book, The Spirituality of Imperfection , he points out that the words “human,” “humility,” and “humour” all share a common Indo-European root, ghôm, best translated by the English word “humus.” Humus is vegetable matter reduced to its most basic form.
In our evolution, humour was a signal that a situation is safe. Laughter breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening. Jokes are often heard at funeral because gallows humour helps us deal with sadness.
Humour brings us down to earth and makes us more resilient- patients recovering from surgery who watch comedies request twenty five percent less pain medication. Soldiers who make jokes deal better with stress. People who laugh naturally six months after losing a spouse cope better. Couples who laugh together are more likely to stay married.
It also lowers our heart rate and relaxes our muscles!
“A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22