Healing Power of Humor Guidelines – A Humor Health Tip
I was struck by a question that came up recently with regards to the use of humor for maintaining health and well-being. This question came up as a result of the tragic events that occured on the campus of Virginia Tech this past week.
First let me begin by recommending a prior post I wrote entitled Using Humor to deal with Tragedy. It’s a post about how humor can help us and the people we know deal with the pain and grief tragic events and tragic circumstances bring. In it I say the following: “Appropriate uses of humor can help us feel that life is worth living fully again, can help us through the recovery process, and can assist us in helping others.”
So the question that occured to me this week was this: What does “appropriate uses of humor” mean?
As a result I’ve come up with the following basic guidelines.
Know Your Audience.
- It’s very important that we are aware of where we/they are in the recovery process. Trying to expose our friends and family to humor non-related to the tragic event might be fine as part of the first steps in recovery. But, we must not force humor upon people since grieving and feeling pain is an important part of the recovery process. We must allow time for people to step through this.
- We should also keep in mind the type of humor that we use with our ”audience”. Will the humor be hurtful? Will the humor be offensive? It’s important that we keep in mind how humor will effect the person we are trying to help.
Humor is a Tool
- Though we encourage the use of humor for maintaining good health, it’s very important for us to make clear that it is a tool to be used along with other tools.
- I could narrow down the positive effects of humor to two basics principles: (1) It has positive physical health benefits that science is slowly discovering and (2) it has postive mental benefits since it allows one to think of the world objectively preventing the small bumps in the road of life from seeming like tidal waves of disaster.
- In terms of the physical benefits, one should use humor in addition to other healing methods such as medication and other treatments. DO NOT IGNORE YOUR DOCTOR THINKING HUMOR ALONE WILL CURE YOUR AILMENT.
- In terms of the mental benefits, one should realize that seeing the forrest from the trees is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the details. We want to encourage people to learn that we always have the option of doing either, viewing our world close-up personally or with a bird’s eye view objectively.
*In case it isn’t obvious, these guidelines are also applicable to when we are the “audience”.