Chapter 7

Laughter

Laughter

 

Laughter contributes to irreverence which opens up areas to explore by getting beyond a sense of awe that impede critical thinking. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote “I would believe only in a God that can dance.” Madigan amended to that “I would believe only in a god who can take a joke.” I think that I would only believe in a God that I can laugh with.

If you ask people “Why did you laugh?” They will say because it was funny.

Laughter has stymied philosophers for 2,000 years, but now it is yielding to science. Researchers have scanned brains and tickled babies, chimpanzees and rats. They've traced the evolution of laughter back to what looks like the primal joke. So, why do we laugh?

Socially

We laugh to let others know what we are thinking. On a date when a woman laughs at a man’s stupid jokes, the more she laughs, the more receptive she is to him. When you tell a great joke and a woman says “Um, what’s that hun?” She has little interest in you. When children are playing they will laugh 50 to 60 times a day. Their laughter lets others know how they feel. We laugh 37 times more when we are in the presence of others. When Comedy is experienced alone, laughter happens less than one percent of the time than it would otherwise. This is why with advent of the internet, people still go to the movies.

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Mentally

The number one trigger for laughter is pain, fear, and anger. This happens 90% of the time with all jokes. This is coming from the Lizard Brain. Our Lizard Brain is transferring emotions to the physical body, and communicating these emotions to other animals. If laughter comes from Muse or is caused by Mirth, this is happening in the higher Human parts of the brain, but everything always starts in the Lizard Brain.

Physically

Laughter is caused by a physical response to emotion. When blushing we let others know what our emotions are. When we blush the blush stops at the clothing line.  Laughter is similar because when we laugh the emotions that we feel get transferred to others. Only with laughter we use sounds and body language (slapping knee, slapping the forehead, and holding your side), whereas with blushing the color of our skin communicates our embarrassment or discomfort to others.

Laughter and The Human Condition

We laugh when we feel superior to others. This is a dominant or aggressive laugh. The Erudite or evil scientist will have this laugh. When we laugh at puppies and small children playing we have another type of superior laugh. When we use the Santa Claus Ho Ho Ho , this lets others know we know secrets about them. The shrill wicked witch laugh is pure evil and we frighten others with it. This happens with dominating managers when talking about their employees.

Biochemically

The language-based portion of the brain (the left frontal cortex) "gets" the joke by recognizing the ambiguity, incongruity, and surprise of the humor. The stomach releases the endorphins and serotonin through the stomach reflexes. The emotional areas of the brain (such as the amygdala) appreciate the humor and trigger laughter.

Only patients with damaged right prefrontal cortexes don’t get verbal humor (ex. tailor shop sign in Japan, please go up stairs to have a fit. Or please feel free to take advantage of our chambermaids) Patients with frontal lobe damage still appreciated slapstick (visual humor), but they will not understand verbal humor.

Laughter is known to relax muscles, lower blood pressure, mitigate stress and lower levels of hormones that might suppress the immune system. Laughter stimulates the production of hormones called catecholamine, which are thought to cause the brain to release endorphins, the same stress reducers triggered by exercise.

When you hear a joke, a language center on the left of your brain makes sense of the words, then sends the message across to the right side of the brain. There, the right frontal cortex delves into regions including those that store emotions and social memories, then shuffles the information until it clicks, and you get the joke. Next, a structure deep in the brain (Lizard Brain) pumps out  dopamine, a “reward system” chemical that makes you feel good, and a primitive region near the base of your skull makes you laugh.

Comedy Provoking Laughter.

The record was held by Jake Benny in his famous skit where a gunman appears from the shadows and holds a gun to the back of his head (a potential tragedy) and says “Your money or your life” Set the longest laugh in recorded history when Jack said “ I am thinking about it.”

The current laugh record was broken by the greatest tragedy in recorded history It received over three minutes of knee slapping, belly laughing, foot stomping, pointing, jumping etc. Filmed in Iraq as a small groups of militant Al Qaeda were watching a televised event of the world trade center coming down.

Why we laugh…

There are many things that throw us off balance. "A thousand natural shocks to which

the body is subject" Shakespeare in the play "Hamlet". There are ten, maybe more things which can help bring you back on track. Each laugh is different. Like a score for music. Here are three examples of laughs that sound the same the world around. The Superior laugh, Relief laugh, and the nervous laugh. The nervous laugh is used ten to one over all the other laughs. There are over 500 different laughs. Each is tied to a different emotion.

When the punch line makes fun of the ambivalence you're feeling the ambivalence you are feeling clears up in seconds. Example you're trying to put two things in the same place at the same time this can make feel like you're crazy. The ambivalent laugh is very quick to help you see the problem and know how to fix it.

You can make or find something to laugh about up to 200 and 300 times a day.

People can and do use laughter like a morphine pump. All laughter dulls the pain and the brain. Except the enlightened laugh as in Ah Ha!

The Nine Main Laughs

1. Pain relief.  The Reason I believe laugher number one happens the most often.. After age sixty we laugh less. Children under five laugh an average of over fifty times a day. Eighteen

to sixty it’s  three to five.) Because there is pain fear and anger. Three and four hundred times a day. Laughter releases those endorphins to mask the pain getting shots of pain relief every time you laugh.

2. Nervous.  Laugh number two is what is often called the fake laugh. Its very short quiet and can happen up to a hundred times a day and go unnoticed. When you’re not nervous and the other person knows you're not they often will find this laugh both offensive and annoying.

3. Maintain Balance. Laughter like a sneeze restores balance. When things get out of balance a good laugh will help put things in order. This is a three to five times a day on a good day. Laugh number four is not happening near enough I don’t think. When drunk or stoned doesn’t count.

4. Excitement. we're number one. I’m so in love, I just made a touchdown. When your kissy face in love everything is funny to the two of you. Stoned, drunk etc..

5. Completion / Accomplishment /Crossing the Finish Line: When the project is complete. An example of this is when doctor Frankenstein’s monster came to life. Dr. Frankenstein gave the laugh "It's Alive" 

6. Epiphany / Enlightenment / Discovery: When we come to understand some new thing we say ah which can turn to ha ha. I got it... now I understand. This laugh is wonderful if it happens once a week. I wish I had one a day.

7. Shock! You scared me so bad...ha ha.

8. Regression into an infant state of mind. My wife says men reach this state much easier than women because most men are already there.

9. We use laughter as a weapon. “The only effective weapon we as mortals have.” according to Mark Twain. This Is used most often with great discretion. It so far seems to be the number one reason people want to learn how to use humor. But I found most want to use it against what they consider to be evil.

We laugh differently in each of these nine areas. Learn to read laughs and you will be able to read feelings. This could be more valuable than reading minds. Duplicate laughs and you will duplicate the emotion.

Laughing Yoga

Yoga is more than just yoga poses and is applied to the Science of Humor as well. The word yoga means union, and when we laugh we are connecting to people around us. We are letting people know how we feel when we laugh, and when others laugh they let us know how they feel. 

10-20 minutes of deep belly laughter may give you hours free from the pain of many diseases. The physiological benefits of laughter such as an increase in certain antibodies, decrease in levels of stress hormones, and a decrease in heart rate of "heavy laughers" have been found in numerous research studies. When we laugh with awareness of our bodies and our surroundings we are performing laughing yoga.

Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.

Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.

Express your true feelings when deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface. This is laughing yoga!

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When in a state of sadness, we have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?” This is why the Science of Humor is such an important part of our lives. The Science of Humor gives us the ability to fine tune our delivery of emotions to others, and to be able to read, understand and empathize the emotions of others.