Laughter Is the best medicine
What is humor and why do we laugh? Can we use laughter to manage the stress of our everyday experiences and, perhaps, lead a healthier life? These are the questions Dr. Brian Luke Seaward challenged us to think about at our monthly Convocation on Wednesday, November 7.
"Students lead stressful lives" says Kelly Andrews, director of the Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center, who brought Dr.Seaward to the College’s attention. "The demands of their families, their course work, their jobs, peer pressure… It can be overwhelming." Using a holistic approach, Seaward emphasizes the need to create an emotional balance—one must look at the mind, body and spirit as equal parts of the whole person to cope with stress effectively.
The Healing Power of Humor
"Humor is essential to your well-being," believes Seaward. "Feeling good helps to balance negative emotions during times of distress." Noting that even in biblical times, humor was considered a therapeutic tool, Seaward quoted Proverbs 17:22, "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." The Greeks too included humor in their dramas, with comedy balancing tragedy. Laughter has not only emotional impact, but positive physiological effects on our bodies. Yet science is only beginning to prove what people have known for centuries—laughter is good medicine.
Armed with a slideshow of hilarious images and videos, Seaward not only entertained, but informed. Humor, he illustrated, takes on many styles and can be good or bad. He cited slapstick, black humor, parody and satire as positive types of humor that relieve stress and help us feel better. Sarcasm, on the other, which means literally to tear flesh, is the lowest form of humor and is bad because it is hurtful to others. Dr. Seaward urged the Florida Southern community as part of our social honor code to refrain from sarcasm.
"The greatest lesson we can learn from Dr. Seaward is that we have the ability to change our perspective. Life provides each of us an opportunity to choose how we cope with the stress of our everyday lives" says Andrews confidently. "If we can learn to seek the positive—always search for good, then our lives will be enhanced with joy, love and peace.
In Search of the Proverbial Funny Bone
With comic relief essential to the human spirit, Seaward is often asked how to improve our sense of humor. In closing, he imparted these few tips: "Read or watch something humorous, try finding the humor in adverse situations, share laughter with your friends, and most of all don’t take yourself too seriously."
Just as we do with other healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, Seaward emphasizes incorporating humor into your everyday life. The recommendation for a healthy life-style may one day be to exercise, eat right and laugh several times a day.