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Chapter 1 Excerpt - Laughter and Humor Are Different

Laughter and Humor Are Different

" Humor allows for a boundary between where we are and some of the cruel things that happen to us." -- Joseph Steiner

We do ourselves a great disservice when we give up play. Then we make matters worse. We confound and confuse ourselves even more by thinking laughter and humor are the same. This results in our need to make rules about when and where we can laugh and what we can laugh about.

Laughter and humor are, in fact, two different things even though they are closely related. Laughter is a spontaneous, physiological process that we all have from birth. As babies, we laugh, but we don’t utilize humor. Our sense of humor develops later on. As we grow, we learn what is funny in our homes and the world around us, and our laughter feeds the humor. Humor then, in turn, feeds the laughter. Humor becomes a trigger for laughter. If we see and remember the differences between the two, we won’t need as many rules for laughter.

In spite of the differences, it’s the connection between the two that makes us search for a lifetime companion with a sense of humor. Humor helps keep us laughing together, and laughter takes us out of our seriousness. Although our important relationships are a vehicle for healing, we can actually have fun along the way. Laughter magically transforms those heavy, hurtful parts of our lives into something lighter from which we can recover.

When we laugh with our partners, we ourselves are fun, and we provide good company for one another. We’re able to re-experience something that is at least reminiscent of the unselfconscious silliness we enjoyed when we first fell in love. Since we can’t go back to that place in time no matter how much we would like to, we can at least keep the feelings alive. Laughter reminds us of our love for one another, and therefore, we feel it again and again. It’s a part of our original relationships that need never end.

In Laughter We Are Not Alone
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