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By Guest Commentary Max Elliot Anderson
Author of The Sense of Humor 

There's something funny about National Humor Month

 


April is National Humor Month. And why not? It all kicks off with April Fool’s Day at the very beginning.

During these uncertain times, what people need most is a good laugh. Imagine what would happen if we understood there is an untapped force, contained within us, that has the power to totally change our lives. And what if we discovered, all we had to do in order to unlock this secret, is to simply start using it?

So it is with humor.

People are hungry for meaning in their lives. Who doesn’t desire to be healthier? War against depression is being waged every day. Yet everything tells us that happiness will have a positive impact on every other area of life. A good sense of humor, along with the personal enjoyment of humor, can only help to make people feel better.

Research demonstrates the sense that humor can make in the life of anyone who is willing to use it.

I believe humor, and a sense of humor, are unique gifts from God intended for people to enjoy a more positive life, while at the same time, brightening the corner where they are. In other words, humor will deliver direct benefits to the user. Outside of this primary benefit, humor will touch the lives of everyone around the user in positive ways.

Medical professionals agree that humor provides positive benefits. Each person arrives at the same understanding. Including humor in all facets of our lives will improve our lives. This is most dramatic in medicine. Studies reveal that humor aids in the healing process. And a personal sense of humor helps combat stress and depression.

In the health field, one scientific study took twenty medical students, and sat them down to watch a forty-five minute stand-up comedian on video. Blood samples were taken every two hours over the span of forty-eight hours. The study found a dramatic increase in the activation of white blood cells in the participants’ systems. These are the cells that fight disease.

Researchers also found an increase in MK cells. These are the natural killers that attack cancer cells. Additional physiological benefits were also revealed in the study. The major finding was these elevations were not simply present at the time their subjects were laughing, but up to 36 hours after a single 45-minute laughter session.

Education professionals tell us laughter encourages learning. Humor leads to an increase in attention span and it can help both the students and the teacher. Educators find, when used in teaching, humor promotes better retention, better understanding, along with more attentiveness and alertness. Teachers who are not yet using humor with their own students would do well to discover how to become better teachers, while making the classroom experience more enjoyable. They will also be promoting increased learning and retention of information.

In business, one of the primary traits that the human resources department looks for is a healthy sense of humor in job applicants. People without a sense of humor aren’t expected to go far.

Humor can be used for more effective ministry. Youth workers, especially with teenagers, will find using humor valuable for this reason alone.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 85 percent of all human illnesses are curable by the body’s own healing system. Recent data suggests the more positive input we can include in our lives, the more we are supporting our body’s ability to tap into its natural healing process.

What about stepping up the use of humor in our families? Experts suggest using humor to deal with a headstrong younger child or the unique problems that arise while living in the same house with teenagers. But no matter what problems a parent might encounter, laughter is not only a common denominator amongst all people; it can be used to defuse some particularly difficult situations within the family. It’s an all-purpose tool.

 

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