Dr. Romance writes:

We are such an inventive species.  We are also a species with  a sense of humor.  I think the two are connected.  It takes a sense of humor to be able to stumble around in an unfamiliar situation until you figure it out. 

Current research has indicated that humor, specifically laughter,  counteracts  the  devastations of stress on the body  and  immune system.  So, it’s obvious to me that a sense of humor would ease the stress of new situations. 

We were given (or developed through natural selection,  depending how you see it)  a sense of humor, the capacity to laugh, for a purpose.  It helps us adapt, learn, grow and survive.   

Taking yourself and your situation too seriously deprives you  of the tool of humor.  

Of course,  it is possible to take things too lightly.  We all  know  the frustration of having a problem that a loved one won't take seriously enough.  We also know people who handle life like a joke,  and never get it together.   Actually, this kind of inappropriate lightness usually masks fear; the fear that whatever situation or emotion one doesn't want to deal with is too heavy to handle.

What I see in my practice more often,  however, is the other way around.   My clients strive,  are earnest, care deeply, and want to do right.   They forget about having fun, relaxing and enjoying, waiting for things to calm down, lightening up about how awful it all is.

One  of my clients who works in a hospice told me  recently about  how surprised he was at how much laughter and humor  there was among the seriously ill patients there.   Another client  who works in a stressful environment found that although the complaints and frustration expressed by coworkers needed to be listened to, it didn't need to be taken too seriously.  Most of it was drama, to get his attention when calmness had failed.  Often couples I counsel find that taking a problem too seriously blows it out of proportion, until it threatens to overwhelm both of them.  Putting it back in perspective restores clear thinking, and the problem is then easily solved. 

Human beings are learning devices.   We are an adaptable species.  Put  us in a situation we don't understand,  and sooner or later, we figure it out and master it.   I invite you to consider making your life as fun and  easy as possible.   

* Whatever ambition you have, take it lightly. 

* When you encounter a problem, take advice from Mary Poppins, and remember "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down."

* Find as many opportunities for laughter as you can.  

* Always read the funnies when you  read the grimmer news.

* Focus as much energy on what is funny or positive in your life as  you do on the problems. You  may  be surprised to find that you get even more  work  done  when you take it a little less seriously, when you laugh a little  more. 

Studies  of  great  human beings,  who have  helped  improve  the  condition  of our lives,  shows most of them have fine senses  of  humor.  Oppressed groups who have  survived  great hardships, are known for their humor.  Surviving hardship teaches us to laugh. 

I  believe  all our human capacities have meaning in  our  lives.  The capacity to laugh may be simply to bring us closer  together, to  help  us  be  social units,  but I think  its existence  says  something  more  powerful.    My  experience  in counseling tells me laughter is one of our great healers.  Try laughing more. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

You can learn more about what makes you laugh, and why in It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction

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For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.