Laughter is a primal instinct. No one teaches us to laugh—we know it from our infancy. Moreover, it cuts across the barriers of language, ethnicity, nationality and other social constructs of human being. Its benefits on our physical and emotional wellbeing are all too well-known. Despite overwhelming research in favour of laughter, seriousness enjoys greater popularity in our world.
Consider this: according to one study children laugh as much as 400 times a day, while adults tend to laugh only about 15 times per day. I suspect that this lopsidedness is because of how we have come to view seriousness—as a virtue. In contrast, humour is mostly considered fickle and of little value in life. No wonder seriousness is the norm in all the spaces we deem important—classrooms, hospitals, temples and churches, office premises—you name it.
I have come to believe that among all the diseases in the world—AIDS, cancer, diabetes, obesity—seriousness is the most widespread. In itself it is bad enough, but what makes seriousness really lethal is that it aggravates all other illnesses of the mind, body and spirit.
The good news is that seriousness has a powerful antidote: humour. Such is the potency of humour that not only does it cure seriousness it also positively affects other afflictions. What’s best—unlike other remedies, in case of humour, self-medication is perfectly safe, even encouraged.
This issue contains a big dose of humour in the form of our two cover stories—both written by professional humourists who convince you that if you’re equipped with humour, you can deal with any kind of pain in your life.
First, Yvonne Conte tells you how you can transform every disaster, no matter how small or big, into an opportunity for laughter. Her personal anecdotes are guaranteed to help you exercise your jaws, as you laugh your lungs out.
David Jacobson takes over from where Yvonne leaves, taking you to a higher plane of humour, where he introduces you to the “Spirit of Humour”, an idea that will make you laugh, ponder and then laugh some more.
Besides proving that humour is gender-neutral, the two authors help bring to the fore the funniest part of you. Keep that part handy, I say. It comes in very useful in the vibrant, sometimes-up, often-down life. And it opens up beautiful possibilities. Talking about possibilities, I love the way Jean Houston, American scholar, author and philosopher, describes the effect of laughter: “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”
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