P

hilosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.” Despite the buffoonish imagery that comes to mind when one considers the joker, the clown or the pie-in-the-face comedian.

It is an advanced intellectual means of developing new perspectives and coping with extreme circumstances. A maltreated animal has two potential responses to an abusive master: attack to stop the abuse, or avoid it.

He cannot disarm the bully with a witty remark or ironically imitate his master behind his back for his own amusement.

Evidence for the direct benefits of humor lie in studies of the body’s chemical reaction to laughter. Among other things, laughter has been shown to reduce stress, boost the immune system and enhance brain chemistry through the release of serotonin and endorphins.

Many popular antidepressants target the neurotransmitter serotonin by either blocking its reuptake or increasing production.

Way of the Warrior

For the rejected lover or laid off worker, this self-induced boost of serotonin activates a neurochemical reaction that enhances their ability to tolerate the stress response and think creatively of coping options.

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.

You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it. Hunter “Patch” Adams, the physician portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie bearing his name, continues to use laughter as a primary tool in his treatment of patients, to great success.

He is just one example of many who have witnessed and reported first-hand accounts of how essential humor is to both physical and emotional health.

Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.