When the whole world decides it’s a perfectly sunny day to turn against you (and trust me, it happens way more often than you think!), there's little you can do about it. You can sit in denial, go into a full breakdown without a return ticket, or you can laugh your ass off through staring straight into the depths of your pain.
In fact, there’s a whole online community dedicated to this coping mechanism where people share examples of self-deprecating humor. No wonder it’s such a huge success! Created in 2016, the r/2meirl4meirl subreddit has a whopping 1.3M members who come here for a daily fix.
I mean, if we cannot fight that pain, at least we can sit right next to it and have a good laugh at each other. So scroll down and upvote your favorite posts!
A growing body of research has suggested that laughing during difficult situations may help to ease our pain and distress. In order to find out how that works, we reached out to Jennifer Williams, the founder of Heartmanity, which provides people with support and vital skills needed to create a healthy and thriving life with relationships that enrich and uplift us. Heartmanity provides groundbreaking skills and programs based on brain science and 30 years of experience.
Jennifer explained that an ability to laugh during painful or difficult situations requires resilience, which is an emotional intelligence ability. “Humor and laughter during tough times don’t mean that we are not taking our lives seriously, but rather, laughing acts like a release valve on a pressure cooker.”
Moreover, “This resilient mindset stems from innate confidence in ourselves to handle life’s curveballs and challenges successfully. The quality of our life is not about what happens to us; it’s about how we interpret and respond to our experiences,” she explained.
Moreover, growing your inner optimist and practicing mindful optimism trains our brains to see the good even when things go awry. Jennifer said that in this way, we start seeing the world through a new lens. “Laughter and humor are wonderful ways to release stress and reset our perspective.”
When asked whether self-deprecating humor can be seen as a useful coping mechanism, Jennifer said that since she believes that we need self-compassion to be at our best, she’s not a fan of self-deprecating humor as a coping mechanism. “In my experience, when a person uses this kind of humor, they tend to be avoiding the reality of what is happening (evading tough emotions like grief or anger) and can be neglecting to take responsible action.”
Even though poking fun at ourselves is a healthy part of humility, the founder of Heartmanity believes that since deprecating means “to belittle or cheapen,” this type of humor can backfire, so you have to be careful. It may cause us to “feel more overwhelmed and less equipped to handle what we are facing in life,” Jennifer warned.
“On the other hand, science shows that gratitude helps to alleviate stress, offsets psychological disorientation caused by unexpected suffering, and increases positive emotions and a sense of well-being. Therefore, regularly practicing gratitude is a far more effective strategy for stress.”
Jennifer concluded that “through appreciation, we keep what is most important to us top of mind, and then we can better stay encouraged in difficult or painful situations.”