HumorWhy do our facial muscles constrict to form smiles and why do we expel syllables that are consistent with laughter when we find something to be amusing?What is it about humor that causes such biological reactions?"Funny" does have a formula. It can be reduced to redirection. People are carried down a path and, at the "punch line", find themselves consciously in another place entirely and their reaction is to smile and laugh.Case in point- the typical joke-"I once knew a man with one leg named Smith""Really? What was the name of his other leg?"Not so good?Here's what Wikipedia calls the world's funniest joke-"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?""We, as the audience, follow the story, as expected, to a very ordinary place. The "punch line" is provided and takes us on a logical, yet unlikely and IMMEDIATE, journey to somewhere else- instantly.It is the immediacy of the change in that ordinarily linear path of comprehension that causes a sudden mental displacement and evokes the physical reaction of smiles and laughter.But WHY?What sense does it make that we exhale, utilizing our vocal chords with the universal syllables of "ha" and "hee" when experiencing humor? How has this behavior ever benefited our survival? "Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were going camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes woke Watson up and said: "Watson, look up at the sky, and tell me what you see." Watson replied: "I see millions and millions of stars." Holmes said: "And what do you deduce from that?" Watson replied: "Well, if there are millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth out there. And if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life." And Holmes said: "Watson, you idiot, it means that somebody stole our tent.""See? There is no disputing that humor is the redirection of calculable linear reasoning to a place that was neither expected nor previously considered- although logical. But why the exhalation of syllables and all the physical attributes included in the execution of laughter?Laughter is no doubt healthy. Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.?Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.?Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.?Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.Okay, so what causes laughter? What is it about humor that creates the physical reactions and benefits?Here's what I think-All matter is made up of atoms. Atoms are made up of sub-atomic particles. Every supposedly solid object is practically 99% empty space. If you took all of the people in the world living today and broke them down to their actual particular selves, you would end up with a mass of sub-atomic particles that are collectively smaller than a sugar cube. The real reality of existence is made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Subatomic particles behave according to quantum physics. These subatomic particles are the essence of humor in that they behave logically, yet find themselves occupying immediately different locations and velocities. Such is the way of reality.Could humor, and our reaction to it, really just be our reaction to a glimpse of the truth of everything? k
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