The Surprising Relationship between Tears and Laughter

July 18, 2013 — 5 Comments

As a psychotherapist, I regularly hear clients tell me they don’t want to cry. Many clients believe that by simply talking about the challenges in their lives, things will improve somehow.

When I hear a client say she (or he) doesn’t want to cry, I know my job for the moment is to help her feel safe and comfortable. I want to help her open up and express her feelings, in whatever way those feelings need to be expressed.

Tears and Laughter

But even though I can’t tell my client what she (or he) is not ready to hear, I know in my heart that when I help her express her true feelings, her honest expression will almost always lead to laughter.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Somehow, as a culture, we have not realized that releasing our emotional pain from deep inside naturally opens up our spontaneous humor. We still seem to believe that personal growth has to be heavy and depressing and something to avoid at all costs.

Yet, that’s definitely not what I have found in my counseling practice. I love to watch the sparkle in a client’s eyes when in the middle of her tears, she’ll look up at me and say something very funny that gets us both laughing. When that happens, I know, as a psychotherapist, that her healing has begun.

The great poet Rumi once said, “In tears come laughter concealed. Seek the treasure beneath the ruins.” In other words,, our unexpressed tears hide our natural laughter. Penach Desai, a current spiritual teacher, also said, “When we avoid the depths of our pain, we also miss out on the heights of our joy.”

Breaking News!

Sometimes I think it should be announced as “Breaking News’ on CNN. I can imagine a serious reporter announcing “The latest research has just arrived showing that there is a surprising relationship between tears and laughter.”

He would go on to say “Research now shows that if you are having difficulty finding things to laugh about in your life, you probably haven’t cried the tears that you need to cry.”

It could be a very fascinating report. With all the negative programming people have had in our culture about tears, I can imagine the reporters looking at each other wide-eyed, wondering what to say next. :-)

5 Tips for Bringing More ‘Laugh Medicine’ into Your Life

But whether or not they announce it on CNN, the truth is still the truth. There is definitely a relationship between tears and laughter and laughter is still the best medicine!

So here are 5 tips for bringing more laughter into your life:

  1. Practice the JoyIAm Process! Learn to identify, express and release your feelings. When you release the negative feelings that are in the way of your playful humor, you will spontaneously start to see the funny side of life. To learn more about Emotional Healing, please click on How to Practice the JoyIAm Process
  2. Stop trying to be funny and just let your natural humor express itself. It’s much more funny to be spontaneous in the moment than it is to have a puffed-up ego about trying to look like the comedian in a situation.
  3. Always choose humor that is funny to everyone involved, rather than humor that is at someone else’s expense. If you find yourself being sarcastic or making digs at someone else’s expense, you undoubtedly have feelings that need to be released through Emotional Healing.
  4. Imagine yourself laughing like you did as a child, and keep imagining it on a regular basis until it becomes a reality in your life. Your imagination is very powerful. What you visualize regularly will manifest in your everyday life. To learn more about visualizing, click on 10 Tips for Creating a Better Life for Yourself.
  5. Spend time with children. Children who still know how to cry will also laugh naturally when something funny happens. They’ll teach you to cry and laugh more regularly if you simply role model after them.

And here’s a picture of me practicing what I teach!

Learn to Laugh Again!

Leave a Comment or a Question

I’d love to hear your comments and questions.

What is your experience with tears and laughter?

What would you like to hear more about?

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More Information:

For more information, you may also want to read some of Kari’s other posts:

How to Practice the JoyIAm Process

The Surprising Health Benefits of Laughter

Expect a Miracle!

10 Tips for Creating a Better Life for Yourself

Stay Stress-Free and Light-Hearted During Tough Times

100 Best Psychology/Self-Help Books

5 responses to The Surprising Relationship between Tears and Laughter

  1. Hi Kari!

    I am in total agreement with you. As a man, in our culture, tears have always been seen as a sign of weakness. As a child, I was ridiculed for crying and learned to suppress the tears. As I have learned (and continue to learn,) as an adult, to let my feelings flow, there has come an incredible sense of release and relief combined with an authenticity of emotion that is nothing short of wonderful. And as you stated, the laughter is lurking just behind the tears, waiting for a chance to escape!

  2. This is a great article, and I love the picture of you with all of those kids. Looks like you are having a great time. Are they all yours?

  3. This is a really great post. Tears are so hard to let go of. I guess holding on to them probably blocks joy and laughter from coming to the surface. Thanks for linking up for flashback Friday.

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