YEARS 7-9 WELLBEING CHARACTER STRENGTH FOCUS
Week 1: HUMOUR
Did you hear the one about…?
Laughing has a way of making us feel good. When was the last time you had a huge belly laugh? We can all relate to how good that feels- as though we are laughing all the way from our toes. There are some people I know who have the most amazingly contagious laugh- the kind that instantly makes you want to join in when you hear it, even if you are completely unaware of what they are laughing about. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to bottle this laughter- to be uncorked at a later time when you could really use a laugh or two?
A recent article I read suggested that if we record our laughter and listen to it, it makes us laugh in about 90% of cases.
Research evidences that laughter has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. It strengthens our immune system, reduces the impact of pain through the release of endorphins and helps to soften the impact of stress. It can inspire us towards a brighter tomorrow, keep us grounded and balanced and also importantly, it can help us forgive each other when things don’t work as they should and we are hurt. It goes without saying that all of this is beneficial to our relationships and happiness, knowing, valuing and caring for each other, as a Community.
Like all strengths, it’s also true that humour has to be used in the right balance and context, so that it is not a shadow-strength or negative in its purpose. It should never hurt or become ‘weaponized’- created at someone else’s expense. As we indicate to students, the age-old excuse of ‘It was just a joke’ is never acceptable as misused humour can result in someone is feeling harassed, bullied or excluded. Unfortunately, the world of comedy does not always set the best example. Even if I think back to those great films I watched and loved as a child- Abbott and Costello (Who’s on First?), Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (really showing my age!). Though I didn’t really get it at the time, the humour was often based on the misfortune of one of the characters, and the ability of the stronger character to manipulate the situation, asserting control or superiority in some way.
Sometimes it’s hard to tone down the humour in us when it’s one of our top strengths, especially when we are adolescents. It can become a shadow strength. But it’s interesting to note that the strength that can sometimes make a learning environment challenging can also be one of the most important of strengths that enables our young people to navigate Challenge, make connections and fruitful networks, resolve conflict, find hope and support each other, towards flourishing. As a result, it is not a strength we want to see disappear, but it is one we need to learn to use more knowlingly as we journey through adolescence, in the best context, for the learning of every person around us. This helps us develop the Choice to be the best leaders and learners of the world we can be.
This week students have seen that we can boost humour by reading a favourite cartoon or funny novel or by watching a film that makes us laugh. We can also share a funny story and bring smiles to the faces of others and importantly, we can remember to be kind to ourselves: it’s ok to laugh at ourselves with others too!
Have a great week ahead, hopefully with some solid belly laughs worth bottling!
Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader