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Long live laughter, and long live laughers

9 Comments
By Michael Hoffman

Laughers live longer. They are lucid longer. Do you want to live clear-headed into your second century? Laugh, says PHP magazine (September).

At what? The world’s no joke these days. War, a pandemic, rising temperatures, rising dictatorships, struggling democracy, natural disaster, man-made disaster, poverty in the midst of plenty (or in the midst of poverty, in lands less blessed than Japan) – a minimalist sketch of the present moment in history is no laughing matter – as PHP acknowledges, with reference to the autonomic nervous system which regulates our involuntary bodily functions and is divided into parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) and sympathetic (“fight and flight”). The two balance – hopefully; lately not, sympathetic prevailing.

We’re nervous, strained, stressed, anxious, fearful. That’s natural but hard on the brain, ultimately corrosive. Life may not be funny, but it’s longer than ever, meaning the brain needs more care than ever. Laugh. It’s the best “anti-aging” there is,” says PHP.

 And – who’s to say? – life may be funny after all, even when – perhaps especially when – it seems least so. There are moments when you just have to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all. Even animals laugh. Listen to the crows cawing overhead; it’s hard not to think they’re laughing at us. More elementally, an animal tensed for danger that is escaped or doesn’t materialize will relax its face muscles into a kind of grin – “a signal to its fellows to relax,” says PHP.

Relax! It’s a jungle out there but “out there” isn’t all there is; there’s an “in here” in all our lives, where laughter – warm laughter, not malicious laughter, the magazine warns; malicious laughter sows more tension than it vents – can reign unchallenged. Clowns there have always been, turning ancient trade fairs into festivals, making sport of pretension, philosophy, love, tragedy, everything. The professional comedian – “fools,” they were once called – is common to all times and cultures. Japanese rakugo, comic narration, is 200-odd years old and thrives to this day. Comedy never fails us. It’s like music. One culture’s music is another’s cacophony; one person’s joke is another’s affront. It can’t be helped. One way or another, we laugh as we sing – nonstop.

Nothing is too grim for humor. The Holocaust spawned Holocaust jokes; AIDS spawned AIDS jokes; now it’s COVID-19’s turn: “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the chicken behind it didn’t know how to socially distance properly.”  

We can’t all be humorists. But we can all cultivate a sense of humor. Begin by laughing at yourself. Nothing so lightens the burden of being you. And nothing’s funnier. You’ll never run out of material. Laugh at yourself and your friends will forgive you for laughing at them. PHP refers to the concept of metacognition – the ability to see yourself as you are: funny. The funniness in you reveals the funniness in things, even – or especially – when they seem least funny.

As, in all seriousness, they do now. Long live laughter, and long live laughers, by all means, but keep an ear peeled for a shrill note in the mirth, sounding the alarm of creeping hysteria.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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I agree!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

We love to laugh. At you. At me. At dumb headlines. Whatever.

I don't want to live much beyond when I lose mobility, regardless of brain function. Based on family history, I have less than 20 yrs remaining and won't come close to 100 yr old.

Here's a real headline that got a chuckle:

NASA really wants to probe Uranus ...

ref: https://www.space.com/uranus-orbiter-probe-mission-timeline

Off color jokes are welcome too. Call me a cracker and I'll bring some cheese.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Better stay away from the JTV "comedians", then.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

btw, laughing (at least) thirty times a day is good for your health.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nothing is too grim for humor. The Holocaust spawned Holocaust jokes; AIDS spawned AIDS jokes; now it’s COVID-19’s turn: “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the chicken behind it didn’t know how to socially distance properly.”  

From all the available jokes about covid, appropriate or not, is this the example they choose to produce laughter?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nothing is too grim for humor. The Holocaust spawned Holocaust jokes; AIDS spawned AIDS jokes; now it’s COVID-19’s turn:

Next, it will be monkeypox's turn; which has been really entertaining because some people want to change the name because they think it is racist or something silly. And we hear hilarious reasoning, such as monkey pox is named after a certain people or a certain country.

I have yet to become aware of a person or country with the word "Monkey" in it--but that is funny in itself.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Next, it will be monkeypox's turn; which has been really entertaining because some people want to change the name because they think it is racist or something silly

Experts and doctors dealing with the disease consider this a serious problem, which is why it is being done. People would be more likely to consider silly or funny the misrepresentation of the problem from people that fail to see its importance and think they have a better understanding of it than the actual people working against it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Life may not be funny, but it’s longer than ever

My ancient alien uncle Methuselah and his pals from those days would laugh at this statement. At the age of one hundred, he was probably watching cartoons in the morning while eating his Cocoa Puffs and getting ready to ride his rocket ship to school on Mars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Experts and doctors consider the name a "serious problem"? 

Read the articles, experts that deal with it make a public appeal about it, they do say this is something serious that requires urgent correction, your personal feelings about it make no difference. As said, trying to discredit the experts based only on your lack of understanding is much more likely to inspire laughter than what the experts are doing.

Do you think the WHO would be doing anything if it had no importance?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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