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Monday, August 31, 2015


There is a vast scientific literature out there on the health benefits of laughter,why we laugh and the neurological processes of laughter etc.

This writing is not meant to pander to confirmation bias. So, we shall as
ordinary human beings with humility, not like the academic struggling to
explain by squeezing jargons as to why we laugh, observe what makes us

If we observe, the consciously aware human species likes or is subjected to too
much of two behavior patterns, the inevitable polarity principle, one is
repetition/routine/normal /expected activities and another is
anomaly/abnormality/unexpected/ unusual activity/actions/ any deviation
from the normal/usual way . Let us not get into their relative merits or

These two behavior patterns, for the sake of brevity and convenience we shall
classify them as repetition and anomaly. They predominantly pervade our
lives on:-

1. Physical plane [inevitable/pleasant repetitive actions we perform] when there
is some deviation/contortion/uneasiness/uncouthness in performing such
physical activities they trigger, as anomaly, humorous feeling and we burst
into spontaneous peals of laughter. These are portrayed as visual humor that
appeal to all very easily and many great films, plays and circuses use these

2. Mental plane – this includes a wider area like language based communications, emotional interactions, socio-cultural exchanges [most of which we carry on repetitively either with seriousness or out of habit or necessity or hypocrisy or to fit into our scheme of confirmation bias] when there is a manipulated /mutilated usage of language, perverted or surprising twist in emotional expression or unexpected socio-cultural exchange etc again they evoke laughter because we encounter some anomaly away from expected/repetitive behavior.

If we observe closely all actions, reactions, situations etc which have caused us to laugh we would notice this.

Most emotions, actions, reactions, thoughts etc manifest in varying degrees of intensity two vital emotions Love and Fear;

Similarly, most behavior patterns are manifestations of either Repetition or Anomaly.
As various manifestations of fear are negative and the emotion of love provides the much needed anodyne.

Repetitions and routines on the one side keep us in our comfort zone and pamper us in our status quo addiction and also help many rituals, rules, healthy routines and traditions to be retained and replayed with rejuvenated celebrations. These very same repetitions on the other side bore us, burden us or by their sheer familiarity or seriousness do not instill any great enthusiasm nor create any great impact so we go about them very mechanically.

Whereas, when we encounter any anomaly or abnormality it attracts our attention and has a greater impact. In a way, laughter is a spontaneous acknowledgment of happy feeling created by unexpected, new, unusual, abnormal, exaggerated manifestation of actions/speech/expressions/usage of language/picture etc.

However, not being the rule laughter is the most important side dish to the main menu of monotonous life. I purposely say it is a side dish because it is a surface phenomenon/manifestation/ outward reaction of some feeling felt deeply inward.

Though there are many new trends like laugh your way to health, laughter the best medicine etc. If we observe without bias laughter has often been associated more with things which were considered frivolous, negative and/or weak.

Guy Murchie in his The Seven Mysteries Of Life writes, “Although laughter is widely accepted as the supreme outward expression of human pleasure, a little thoughtful research shows it can just as often be the surface manifestation of escape from a hidden conflict. Or, as Freud explained it, the humor that sets us laughing is a benign device for mastering our forbidden urges. And a modern psychologist might nod and say, "Indeed: like a cork on a bottle of potentbrew."…. “And no less delusory, if a lot grimmer, is the weird disease called kuru or "laughing sickness," whose obvious symptom is anything but a laughing matter, for it has been found only among members of the obscure Fore tribe in eastern New Guinea where, to those who catch it and laugh, it is 100 percent fatal”… “There is even a spot in the septal area of the brain called the pleasure center, where, if delicate electrodes are implanted and just the right electric current applied, the delightful satisfaction imparted (according to one estimate) is "greater than the satiation potentials of all other known appetites combined."

As Michael Graziano writes, “Laughter is supremely irrational and crazily diverse. We laugh at clever jokes, surprising stories, the slapstick of people tripping and falling in the mud. We even laugh when we’re tickled on the ribs. According to the ethologist Jan van Hooff, chimps have something like laughter: they open their mouths and make short exhalations during play fights, or if someone tickles them. Gorillas and orangutans do the same. The psychologist Marina Ross compared the noises made by different species of ape and found that it was the sound of bonobos at play that comes closest to human laughter, again, when play-fighting or tickling. All of which makes it seem quite likely that the original type of human laughter also emerged from, yes, play-fighting and tickling.”

However, let us also treat ourselves to some good quotes on laughter here:-

However, all said and done, a life without laughter will be really boring.

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