Saturday, July 28, 2012
The Flow of Humor
Humor is a subjective experience and understood in terms of emotional reactions to mental and physical stimulus. This post emphasizes the experience of people who self-medicate with humor for a wide range of conditions. A recurring theme among benefits it brings to them is a sense of flow, wellbeing, or harmonious existence described in literature - after they've stopped laughing.
Despite the many opportunities to laugh in our present era as opposed to individuals who lived during the early and mid 20th centuries, there's still an ambivalence to laughing in public. I'm not advocating for laughing in public, but I'm not entirely convinced that it's a bad thing if it happens spontaneously.
Historically, people haven't gone around reciting Baudelair's (ca. 1860) "artificial paradise" on a street corners, even though the words might have touched someone who overheard them to investigate their deeper meanings after having the encounter.
Laughing can lead to fantastic visions and dramatic flights of fancy producing an extension of the self in all directions, as well as feelings of benevolence. Interestingly enough, the laughter state can invoke a heavy payment in lethargy and discomfort once the intoxication of humor has ended, as well as a more troubling surrender of the will to feelings of insecurity.
So, how do we retain the rapturous heights attained in a good laugh without succumbing to the afflictions marked by equal lows when we fail to achieve the same type of gut wrenching laughter once we've already heard a joke's punchline? Compared with more enduring states of mind achieved by mystics and poets through hard work and meditation, laughing induced states of consciousness could be deemed practically and morally inferior - if enlightenment of mind is the experience you're after.
When laughing arises as a result of particle tingling after having already reached enlightenment, laughter becomes a particle or spiritual cleanser of sorts that allows you to clear of the residue of negative energie that surrounds us as we go about our daily lives, exposed to all sorts of energie vibrations - both the ones that flow around us as well as the ones we encounter, in a big city, for example.
You can literally walk down the street and feel this wave of suffocating energie or piercing anger flowing out from people... it's like sticky rice, if you notice it, it sticks to your fingers or energetic feelers. When this happens, a good laugh is instrumental for breaking the bonds that tie energie together, freeing you from negativity and unpleasant mental states. The flow of laughter seems to trigger a transcendence that satisfies our urges for stimulation, relaxation, and pleasure.
Laughter, in this respect, is beneficial in maintaining homeostasis, equilibrium, or balance. Laughter coordinates large systems that support the cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, excretory, and musculo-skeletal functions of the body, among others (the amuse system).
The purposeful use of humor equates to harm reduction. Laughter, in this view, is a neuroprotective agent, preventing cell death and dysfunction, or neurodegeneration, as found with progressively debilitating autoimmune diseases or a lack of humor. In light of its foregoing larger regulatory function, laughter deficiency might also help explain why humor appears to be so helpful for some people (humor therapy). Biomedical advances in this area may one day validate our ancient admiration and allow for fuller recognition of the value of laughter.