9 Ways Humor Can Heal

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Humor Combats Fear

Boy smiling


I know this first hand, having sat in the community room of a psych ward watching a video of a comedian poking fun at depression. Like everyone else in that room, I was scared to death of many things: that I would never smile again, or love again, or even WANT to love again. I was fearful of life.

That panic didn't instantly transform into a hearty chuckle once the psych nurse popped in the funny video. But the climate of the room was noticeably different. Patients began to open up more, to share some of the details they had left out in the prior group therapy session.

Humor disengages fear because it changes your perspective both on the past and the present. A traumatic childhood episode loses its tight grip on your heart if you can place it into the "ridiculous" category of other stories from the past. With a playful perspective, you can remove yourself from a marital problem that has you debilitated with anxiety. Laughter forces a few steps--some much-needed distance-- between a situation and our reaction. We all would do well to follow the advice of Leo Buscaglia: "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!"