Most people know that humor and laughter are beneficial for relieving stress. In fact, research supports laughter as a tool for lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, releasing endorphins, which are the body\’s natural painkillers, and producing a general feeling of overall well-being. Experts say that as you grow older, your view of the world becomes altered and your perspective on things changes. This means that what you found funny when you were younger, may no longer apply today.

Laughter and a sense of humor are natural resources, easily attainable and free. What people find funny depends on three theories:

  • You enjoy incongruities, like an unexpected fall or the surprise factor of a punch line.
  • You laugh at someone\’s mistakes, stupidity or calamities, since it makes you feel better about yourself.
  • You appreciate the timing of comic relief when tension is released by a funny moment.
  • Sometimes people are so overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities, that they don\’t allow themselves the luxury of relaxation and mirth. It becomes difficult to find humor in the situations that are straining, agonizing or distressing. However, a change in disposition can do wonders in terms of how you approach most challenges. Even depression can be lifted by finding humor in life\’s everyday foibles. Some people may have to LEARN to laugh because it\’s not as natural as other behaviors. In essence, if you examine the nature of your sense of humor, you can raise the scope of your “humor index.”

    You do this by considering the following:

    • Are you the type to initiate humor or do you enjoy laughing along with others?
    • What are the kinds of things you find most humorous (jokes, movies, one liners, etc) and what don\’t you consider funny (sarcasm, ethnic jokes, etc)?
    • Can you be silly and laugh at yourself easily?
    • Must you be in a good mood to laugh, or can something amusing change your mood?

    It\’s great to have a repertoire of things you find funny that you can access when you need it. It\’s also great to schedule daily moments of frivolity for ridding yourself of excess emotional weight, built up from the day.

    We, boomers, need to explore being less judgmental and more tolerant so that the subtleties of life become the fuel that tickles our funny bones. And remember that a sense of humor keeps minor problems in perspective and enables you to endure life more easily– by cleansing the system of excess tension and keeping you emotionally fit.

    Amy Sherman, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. Amy is the author of the ebook, “Distress-Free Aging: A Boomer\’s Guide to Creating a Fulfilled and Purposeful Life” and “The Joy of Optimism 10-Lesson eCourse. Visit www.bummedoutboomer.com to learn more about boomer issues and to receive a Special Report on Overcoming Adversity when you sign up for her FREE newsletter. Contact her by email at amy@bummedoutboomer.com or by phone at (561) 281-2975