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LAUGH, and the world will laugh with you. How the universal language will make your life easier.

*Read in an Australian accent, it's funnier. What did Mr Cheese say to the shop assistant when she selected the wrong size dress for his wife? That won't Feta!

Bingo, now I've (hopefully) made you laugh, endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters will be swimming around your brain like an overexcited 8-year-old about to launch himself into the rapids at Centre Parcs. Hmm, the second joke I made there might only have elicited some giggles if you have lived in the UK.

This article will diffuse your misconceptions around laughter and show the many understated benefits that giggling just a little more can enhance your quality of life massively. Let's get to it!

Misconception #1

Laughter isn't about humour.

Reality = Laughter is about your relationships.

Eminent psychologist on laughter, Robert Provine (University of Maryland), agrees that laughter isn't so much about humour (which is heavily weighted in cultural and linguistic nuances etc.), but more about relationships. People laugh more in conversation than through interaction.

In his book, Laughing: A Scientific Investigation, Robert also found that in one of his studies that out of 1,200 “laugh episodes,” only about 10% were generated by a joke. Think body language, subtle glances, witty words that fall well, mannerisms, shared past experiences, the list goes on.

FYI the same psychologist found that women laugh 126% more than men and that without laughter, mating would be much less effective. After all, laughter is contagious and is a way to emotionally bond with others.

Misconception #2

You have to be "fluent" to understand another culture's humour.

Reality = Humour is cultural, but laughing is universal.

"It's giving Charlie Hebdo, Pierre, try to be more FUNNY and less racist" is a sentence I may or may not have said in my lifetime - specifically that 2022 chapter in Paris lol.

Many jokes are cultural, yes, and even though I consider myself "vraiment pas mal" in French these days, there are some jokes that a) I don't understand and b) will never consider funny. This is because they are so seeped in French culture, that to understand them would require an entire lecture on the French Revolution, for example.

Will I ever be "culturally fluent" enough to understand the French, French jokes? Maybe, but not today. Right now I'm okay creating Franglais jokes with my magic English touch. Like, for example, inventing croissant frites à l'anglaise. Blague of the century. 🥐

It's worth pointing out that there are four different types of humour. 1/ Affiliative, which is laughing with other people. 2/ Self-enhancing, taking a light-hearted approach to difficult circumstances or setbacks. 3/ Self-defeating, making fun of oneself for other people’s amusement, to manipulate or hide one’s true feelings (British people) 4/ Aggressive, or rather ridiculing or teasing other people. Can you think of 4 people you know who you would a lot into each different category of humour?

Misconception #3

Laughter isn't enough to "make my life easier".

Reality = We underestimate the power of laughter.

1/ Diffuse difficult situations.

Many (many) of us have had, or will have, a "difficult situation" in our lives at some point. When used appropriately, a witty remark, joke, or flicker of a smile can release the tension and reframe the situation as less intense, or serious, than it needs to be.

2/ Cultivate a positive work environment.

Do you send your colleague memes about how sh*t your workplace is until 3am? The ones with cats crying? Instead of using humour as a vehicle to handle your toxic af workplace, if humour and laughter had been leveraged in the early days to cultivate a positive human-first space, you'd be sending much better memes to each other.

3/ Couples who create humour together, stay together.

Lol I can very easily draw a chart of the quality of my past relationships in relation to the amount of laughter in the relationship. Enough said. Jeffrey Hall  from the University of Kansas confirms, "'Say you and your partner share a quirky sense of humour, but romantic comedies or sit-coms do nothing for either of you. It's not that any style or sense of humour is any better or worse. What matters is you both see quirky humour as hysterical. If you share a sense of what's funny, it affirms you and affirms your relationship through laughter."

Creating Private Jokes will literally take your relationships further. Wow.

So to apologise for the rinsing of the French in this article on laughter (apologies, it's a British habit, I simply can't help it), I thought I'd pay testament to the fact that the French don't eat their cheese with crackers. Something I very sadly found out last night as my French friends literally gagged when they saw my crumbled crackers emerge from my bad ...

What is cheese without a cracker? Crackalackin!

And on that note, thank you for reading this article! If you need a prompt to get those giggles aflowing, get your hands on a Private Joke game for your friends and family. We promise there aren't any awful cheese jokes.

Author: Olive Halsall is the Founder and CEO of Olea Education, an EdTech on a mission to make languages fun. Through our card game, Private Joke, and workshops, Olea Createathons, we are on a mission to normalise and revolutionise language learning around the world, one giggle at a time. Olive holds a 1st Class Hons in French, Mandarin & Business from the University of Birmingham where she was awarded the CIS Confucius Language Scholarship to attend Tsinghua University on exchange. In addition, she holds an MPhil in Education from St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge, during which she published her thesis on poetry and multilingual identity.

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