Right sort of Laughter
Laughter, for me, should be full of love, compassion and acceptance for both the people laughing and whatever is being laughed at. I don’t like jokes where what is being laughed at is demeaned or where someone is being made less human.
One of my life skills, which some people have expressed surprise at, is the ability to remember very silly jokes. Usually aimed at about small people’s sense of humour.
“How did the elephant get into the cherry tree?” “He sat on the pip and waited until spring”
“How did the elephant get out of the cherry tree? Sat on a leaf and waited until autumn….”
Both groans and laughter are welcome!
I have found that laughter is a bonding force – it can bring people together, and emphasises our humanity within the group.
A sense of humour is necessary to deal with the vagaries of life. From things insignificant in the greater run of life, such as spilled milk, through emergency calls which shatter expectations, to the dark humour found amongst those who deal with illness and death daily.
Laughter is now being studied as a way of relieving pain – as it stimulates the body to produce natural pain killers as well as improving the function of your immune system.
The use of humour in palliative care in hospices is something I’ve found fascinating. When arriving to visit a friend they quipped, ‘I’ve already said goodbye to you – I’ve got limited availability now you know!’. We both laughed and the nurse smiled, and later chatting to the nurse they said that facing death brings about a certain freedom – and an acceptance that humour is essential when dealing with end of life details and tasks.
Rachel Brett, was Representative, Human Rights and Refugees (HRR) at the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) Geneva for many years. Rachel gave the Swarthmore Lecture in 2012, in which she explained part of their ministry was hospitality.
It is hard to look across a negotiating table and see someone as ‘other’, if you have shared a meal and laughter with them, she explained.