Why telling jokes can heal you

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

No it's not about laughing

We all know that laughing can make a person feel good but this is not what i am going to talk about in this article. In a previous article about laughter i have already explained how laughter can help our bodies release some hormones that can make us feel better and even reduce the pain.

But in this article i am going to talk about something else which is how jokes can actually help us feel better by altering our perception of our problems. After all it's our perception of events that make us feel either bad or good and if we managed to change that perception then we will see things in a totally different light.

Once upon a time i faced a very serious business problem that made me feel really bad.
The bad mood lasted for hours until i created a funny joke about the event and sent it to my friends. What happened after that is that my mood improved right away. I won't tell you that all the pain went away else I'd be lying but i experienced a significant improvement in no time.

So the question is , what happened here?

More than just a joke

In my previous article the psychology of jokes i explained how we use jokes to vent about important matters as much as we use them to laugh.

If a person doesn't like the president of his country for example then this person might tell a joke about this president. In such a case the purpose of the joke isn't to make the person laugh and that's it but in addition to that it has an important goal which is helping that person vent some of his hatred toward that president. See also why the Circulation of Jokes about presidents indicate that they are losing support

Of course i am against making fun of anyone but i am just explaining what happens behind the scenes of many of the jokes we see. In other words any joke has an important psychological component that helps a person feel better in addition to the twist that makes the person laugh. See also Assessing a person's beliefs using jokes

Now when you joke about your problem so many things happen that make the problem seem of less importance. Let's examine those things together.

Why joking about our problems makes us feel better

The first thing that happens when you tell a joke about your problems is that the problems seem much less significant to your subconscious mind. After all your subconscious mind thinks that if you are laughing about something then it might not be that important. See also why the subconscious mind is like a child.

The second thing that happens when you joke about a problem is that you objectify it. I talked earlier about writing down your thoughts and i said that it can help you see the problem in a different light. When you write about a problem you tend to see its real size instead of seeing something large and vague.

Just like writing can objectify a problem joking can objectify a problem as well. When a problem is objectified it loses that mysterious undefined size and gains a normal one.

In addition to all that humor is one of the defense mechanisms the brain uses to cope with pain and trauma. By forcing that defense mechanism to work you are actually increasing your coping abilities and accelerating your ability to heal.

So in short, laugh about your problems hen you can : )

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