Humor, Formality, and Healing

I’ve always appreciated the healing value of a good joke.

The whole ‘political correctness’ argument is tired. It is impossible to define or measure, it’s a matter of scope and opinion. We could argue that some things can/should be joked about, or shouldn’t. And that some jokes can hurt people. This is true. But that’s not the point.

My point is that many of us might focus on trying to be uniform everywhere we go, and we lose a big piece of ourselves in the process. We don’t let personality shine through. And for many people, being humorous is a key component of personality.

As a society, we have become too formal. Too perfect. Too concerned about professionalism and how ‘professional’ it is to say something humorous on occasion. Sometimes we view it as it taking something away from a message or undermining seriousness. But really, it can take the edge off serious situations, and ultimately won’t prevent something from being done. The mental health benefits help boost productivity.

Many people get burned out without a good sense of humor, but those attempting to serve society revive it with humor. Society has become so FORMAL that we stop laughing. We’re never allowed to both take things seriously enough to rectify them, create change that will benefit others, respect people, AND laugh.

Why is this? Why aren’t we creating a society where humor prevails, heals both the caregivers and the vulnerable, and can provide motivation and energy to all?

But the idea that only happy things can be joked about limits our opportunities to smile and heal. The more things you decide you cannot laugh at, the fewer opportunities you will have to savor moments. Surely it’s wise to draw some lines, and maybe create rules/exceptions.

But you know? The leaky roof isn’t a happy thing. It’s an annoying thing. What else can you do about it until you can hire a contractor to fix it? Bemoan the water dripping on your head, or make a joke about it?

Humor might, but doesn’t have to undermine the seriousness of issues — on the other hand, it can highlight them and bring attention to areas in need of rework, and people in need of support. But ultimately, you can bet that humor creates conversations: If it arouses introspection, it’s one that we all need to have.

Some will say “everything is either black or white.” Some are healed by the revelation that their trauma is amusing, and that it takes the power away. I believe that this is a strength.

Some are uncomfortable around the idea of sad things, in general, being a topic of a joke. We can’t get away from the sad things, typically, we can only cope with them. There’s reframing, a sense of acceptance of there needing to be dark with the light – but humor is one of many ways. And there’s a taboo against laughing at some things, though it can be both artful and healing.

I would not advise an individual to say something outright demeaning unless you’re having a ‘roast battle’ with a friend. The key here – is discretion. Further, always consider the group or the individuals you are speaking with. Their personality. Their mood. Their mindset. Whether the situation can stand to benefit or will be undermined by a joke. These components are all part of the presentation.

One Reply to “Humor, Formality, and Healing”

  1. I often miss the days when people weren’t offended by EVERYTHING and we could agree to disagree. Now we can’t even remake a Disney movie without eliminating any potential offensive lines. Humor in social work is common and is the way we make it through. I loved this post, it resonates deep with me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *