The healing touch of humor

The flight attendant came on the loudspeaker. “There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only five ways to leave this plane,” she quipped. The passengers laughed at this reference to the exits in the words of an old American popular song. My thought woke up a bit. It got me thinking: What is it about laughter that can be so transformative and even healing? 

Writer George R. R. Martin said, “Laughter is poison to fear.” While some situations make it difficult to laugh, such as threats to health and life, or loss of livelihood or home, laughter can break the spell of feeling all-consumed by our difficulties and problems. Fear can feel hypnotic—like being mired in worry or anger when facing challenging circumstances. Yet when a friend suddenly helps us laugh at ourselves, thought can awaken to fresh possibilities. Genuine, heartfelt laughter lights up our whole being. We’re reminded there is more than one way to view a situation. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, once said, according to her student Emma C. Shipman, “I like to have my students laugh. A good laugh often breaks mesmerism” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume I, p. 310). Mesmerism is defined as “hypnotic appeal” ( We can feel hypnotized by obsessing over a relationship or a disturbing news event or even our own day-to-day challenges. Moving out of stuck viewpoints occurs when we glimpse our true spiritual individuality, which is beyond ego. We can laugh more easily when we feel secure in ourselves because we are seeing more of our real selfhood, defined and maintained by God. God essentially means good. And the goodness of God doesn’t come and go, but is constant spiritual truth. Humor celebrates the goodness of God and our goodness as God’s image. 

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Bible Lens
Bible Lens—August 12–18, 2019
August 12, 2019

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