Humor is serious business. How serious? Eminent psychiatrist Viktor Frankl once gave someone humor homework-the man had to tell a funny story every day. Both Frankl and his "patient" were inmates of Auschwitz at the time!
When life throws its weight at you-which it's bound to do sooner or later-humor helps you rise above your circumstances, even if only for a few seconds. It allows a necessary distance for us to view our suffering from a different perspective. And it also gives us hope during times of despair, that there will again be times when we'll laugh, not because we have to for self-preservation, but because we'll want to. Even physiologically, laughter-even the anticipation of laughter- can lower stress hormones and boost health-protecting hormones like beta-endorphins. When I had cancer five years ago, friends sent me the best joke emails. One guffaw was sometimes enough to lift my spirit for the rest of the day.