Lessons in Laughter

Jessica - Ames, Iowa
Entered on February 5, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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There are many times in life that things just do not go as planned—the car stalls halfway to an important meeting, we are a dollar short for groceries, or we happen to confuse the boys’ bathroom with the girls’. Each situation we face in life gives us a new opportunity: we can use the situation that we have just encountered for reason to pity ourselves and speculate the “what ifs,” or we can use it to our advantage and create a moment of comic relief. For these reasons, I believe that humor is an effective tool to teach others with and can also create a strong bond between people.

In high school, I participated in many classes and activities that were challenging to me. Yet, many of these difficult classes ended up being the ones I enjoyed the most because they incorporated laughter into the classroom environment. During my junior year, my physics teacher seemed to understand that lightening the mood before he jumped into the equations surrounding light refraction helped us to de-stress and focus on the material. Therefore, he began each class period with jokes from the celebrated Joke, Joke Book. Another one of my teachers incorporated humor into his class in a different way—by making witty comments about the subject matter or creating inside jokes with his class about Hamlet’s obsession with ears. Though he assigned many papers and projects, an onset of a new project only meant more laughter in the classroom. His love of humor even prompted him to teach a week-long class on the subject, where we ended up watching an episode of the Simpsons and creating our own story of observational humor.

After experiencing this teacher’s tactics, I found myself using irony and observational humor to build my relationships with others. During my senior year in high school, my friends and I created a quote book and recorded any sayings or incidents that we found entertaining. In addition, because I was now a role-model to the younger students, I found myself telling stories of things I had done and experienced in a humorous light, even if at the time I had not noticed them in that way. For instance, I told one girl who was worried about the clothes she was wearing that once I had showed up to soccer practice unprepared. I had to borrow some clothes from a cross country friend and had come out to the field wearing a green, fitted shirt; borrowed, orange shorts; blue soccer socks; and, as a finishing touch, pink shoes.

From receiving the benefits of laughter in the classroom to creating my humorous situations, I have experienced first-hand the effect that laughter can have on stressful situations. Thus, I believe that humor should be used to bring people together in work and in life in general. Incorporating laughter into our everyday lives gives an improved perspective on life and triggers our enthusiasm with the world around us. If we lose the ability to learn through laughter, we lose the ability to learn and grow as individuals.