March 28, 2011

Laughing Through Tears May Add Years

Simpsons nuclear gags nixed by networks - CBC News

I saw this news headline on CBC.ca and, coupled with the fact I had just presented on laughter and stress in the morning, I thought it would be a great blog post for today.

According to this newsarticle, the producers of the "The Simpsons" have made the decision to pull certain episodes that make fun of nuclear mismanagement / disaster due to the hardships in Japan over the nuclear reactor.  Now, at first glance, this appears to be a thoughtful and respectful thing to do in consideration for those struggling overseas (and for those in other parts of the world concerned with the global effects it may have). But with all we have come to understand about humour, is it the best decision for the health of it?

This may be a very touchy subject, as many people have certain beliefs and attitudes about propriety in the face of challenge. However, I tend to strongly lean towards laughter as a way to handle such stressful situations. Laughter not only enhances our physiology by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and increases our oxygen uptake and happy hormone circulation (a.k.a. endorphines) but it can bring people together, promote cohesion, and lower our stress response to things such as.....global disaster.

Humour in advertising goes along
way too. This is an ad for a gym.
Just go onto Youtube and you
will find many banned ads that will
make your sides hurt..in a good way.
Case in point...when I was 24, I was told - a week before my wedding I might add - that my father had dementia and I was to be his primary caregiver. If I had known what that meant at the time, I would have run screaming from the hospital onto the next bus and drove half way across the world...never to be seen again. As it turned out...I was completely ignorant to what lay before me.  At any rate, I experienced great sadness, loss, and challenge as I witnessed my dad go from a strong, successful, charismatic man to a confused, scared, skeleton of the person his once was. Sure..it was horrible and devastating, but I knew that if I was going to get through it alive, I would have to throw some jokes at the situation. So I (we) did. The day we had to place him in emergency placement (at a hospital not unlike that of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") we immediately went to the closest restaurant, ordered up a few drinks and made one sick joke after the other to try and decrease the stress and sadness. Nine years later, we were still trying to make fun of an unfunny situation....right up until the funeral.

I believe that was what saved me and continue to try my very best to choose laughter over woe. Of course, the woe is going to come and you must acknowledge it and move through it, but to wallow in it and make it your friend is something that will most certainly decrease immune system function and make you sick over time. There is no subject that you can't laugh at. There is a saying (based upon a quote from a famous thinker that I can't remember at the moment) that was used in an old Woody Allen movie (I can't remember which one) that stated - and I'm paraphrasing - "Humour is tragedy plus time". Meaning, if you wait long enough, an otherwise tragic event can be lightened up through humour. Of course, anyone who has gone through a tragedy may beg to differ, but it is solely based upon the perception of the individual and not the circumstance they are experiencing.

This is the woman I want to become
when I hit 80! I don't know what's
so great about her, but she looks
like she would be alotta laughs!
In other words, we experience events differently based upon the lense we are looking through. If we are perceiving things in a more "woe is me" fashion, we may feel every bump in the proverbial road. Conversley, if we are able to laugh and see the meaning in our distaster, we fare much better.  Laughter and meaning in life are two very effective ways one can manage stress.

So whether you believe "The Simpson's" producers made the right (or wrong) decision could be up for debate. I'm sure their hearts were in the right place...or it could be motivated by political-correctedness..who knows. Either way, there are still many episodes to choose from if it makes you laugh. If not, change the channel, put on a funny Podcast, find a halarious movie, clip, picture, ringtone, or friend that gives you that healthy bout of laughter.  A good belly laugh is equavalent to 10 minutes on the rowing machine.....at least that's what I've heard.

So in the words of George Carlin, I leave you with this consideration.....

Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things!

That's all I got.
K

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