Which is why this year we’re sponsoring Giggle Aid in aid of the British Red Cross. It was a no brainer for Rising Vibe. A good laugh is a tonic. It makes us feel better. And when we feel better, we do better.
There have been numerous studies on the health benefits of laughter both physically – boosts the immune system, relaxes muscles, aids circulation, protects against heart disease, and mentally – lowers anxiety, releases tension, improves mood and fosters resilience. It can even strengthen our relationships by defusing conflicts and helping us to bond.
Laughter helps us to feel better as long as it’s real. We all have those friends who, when we’re feeling low, can instantly make us feel better by taking the proverbial.
“It’s really awful you’re getting divorced. I always knew those ginger freckles would mean you’ll die alone.”
They aren’t undermining you, as they know you inside out. And you know them. They want to lighten the situation and cheer you up.
My friend is a Doctor. He told me that if anyone heard the banter that goes on in the staff room, they would all be sacked on the spot. But he also tells me that the banter is vital. In such a highly stressful job where emotions often run high, it’s welcome light relief.
Comedians often get into trouble for making jokes about taboo subject matter. Whether it gets a laugh depends on the skill of the comedian and the context of delivery. But the best comedy always cuts close to the bone. There’s nothing funnier than real life. The tough stuff, the stuff that causes us the most stress/anger/frustration/sadness always gets the biggest laughs. And thank-goodness it does, as it somehow makes it just that little bit more bearable. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we’re Donald Trump moaning about how unfair and unfunny Saturday Night Live is.
However humour can be really unhelpful when it’s used as a strategy to avoid or deny. I ran a coaching skills programme that involved people volunteering to come up and be coached. It took real bravery as it meant opening up about some difficult issues. One of the delegates started to share something that was uncomfortable and got a little emotional. Another delegate watching this unfold was triggered in some way by what was being said. He then used a bad joke to break the intensity and lighten up the situation that was uncomfortable for him, even though the delegate was making some amazing progress. Nobody in the group appreciated it and it wasn’t helpful at all.
When you feel low but you allow yourself to feel what you feel, you’re owning it. Something genuinely funny that resonates will always lift you in some way. On the other hand, making jokes as a distraction from the real issue because it’s too uncomfortable or triggers our own shame is never helpful. Just ask yourself, am I seeking out humour to help me feel better or to avoid and deny something I’m not comfortable with?
Giggle Aid might not bounce us to the top of the Rising Vibrational Scale, but that’s ok. It’s progress not perfection. No matter where we are on the scale, if we’re honest with ourselves, a laugh, a chuckle or even a smile can make us feel just that little bit better.
So bring it on Giggle Aid.