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Why is it taking people triple the effort to laugh these days?

People rarely laugh these days. With stand up comedians finding new windows of opportunity to enter societies, and with technology developing that should presumably make our lives easier, why is depression still a growing disease and why are people becoming more depressed? I'm interested in hearing some feedback from social psychologists (if any) and other theories of how we can improve the society's mental well-being.

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    Sep 13 2011: One of the best resources in this field is Martin Seligman who is considered the father of positive Psychology. His newest book is called 'Flourish, In it he states that lives must have engagement, meaning and connection and many people are lacking at least one of those three things.
    He also offers proven research on how to improve emotional well being. One suggestion is to have a notebook in which you write down three things that went well each day as the day closes. This helps to overcome the attention we tend to pay to problems in our lives and to refocus us on what makes life satisfying or fun. There are lots of other useful techniques in the book.
  • Aug 19 2011: I believe it's difficult to quantify what number of people are laughing or are not. Could it be that your question arises from a pattern you witness continually as you progress through life's varying stages? Going from the observation postulated by Leila that babies and children laugh freely and more often, but also express a whole spectrum of emotions freely and with varying degrees of restraint, but much more typical than the average adult. Then, these same 'babies and children' grow older and become adults just as you and I and every human being that has been blessed (or cursed, some might argue...deities and beliefs in many faiths seem to find favor in the child) to reach these stages do and suddenly it seems we realize something has changed in ourselves and begin to perceive this change in the world around us, if we choose to take this step. At this moment of social awareness attuned with our self reflection we can see a world very different than that of our childhood perceptions. We have the unfortunate experience of socialization, in it's many structures, pressures, demands and perversions, shaping the way we behave and conduct ourselves (think about that for a moment, to actively and consciously 'conduct one's self') in view of others and society at large. And, if left unaccounted for or 'realized' this process can subtly, insidiously crawl into our personal lives and seem to take root in our basic character. To almost touch our true being. We know nothing else as 'babies and children' but to be, without a great deal of awareness to act otherwise, but the outer world beckons and expects and entices and, even, takes and deprives and all the while we watch how this shapes our inner truth, you, me, that reflecting being. So, now i ask you, will you choose to still smile? Will you make this choice everyday?
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    Aug 17 2011: My answer to this question will be that people in general are just to obsessed with the pleasing of the senses, in other words gaining pleasure.
    Wich is quit different then the more divine and pure feeling: joy.
    I reckon the pleasure approach is to materialistic, fake and momentary.
    As human kind we should do more introspection, tutorial and discover that the kingdom is in us.
    • Aug 18 2011: Well said!! I dont have anything other to comment other than: well said!!
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    Aug 14 2011: Hi,

    I'm not a psychologist but I think I've got something to say about the developing technology to what you're refering to.

    I asume the problem with technology is that we're expecting those things to make our life drastically better from the one moment to the other, namely the moment when we purchase such a advanced device. Thereby comes that human kind always wants more, wich seems easy at first sight because every two minutes they invent a new high-tech product. Although we are mostly able to buy this new promising product, disillusionment will soon arise time after time.
    • Aug 14 2011: Hi Lars

      Thanks for your reply. I agree with you about the expectation gap of what technology has to offer. Many a times it backfires on us. Disillusionment is the right word. However, these days we have the entertainment, the movies, the physical devices, the products /services and the social networks that is supposed to make people get closer and move faster to lead a more comfortable life. Yet the result is stress on humanity. How can we make people losen up?
  • Aug 14 2011: Well, firstly, how do you know that it does take us triple the effort to laught at the moment? But, my theory is that we forget what is rewarding in life, people who value family and people are happier than those who are always looking for the next thing- for that promotion at work, the bigger house the flashiest car etc. I think that this is proven by the fact the children and babies laugh much more than adults do. (Just come into my classroom at school and you'll see an example of this).
    • Aug 14 2011: Hi Rachel

      Thanks for your reply. Well, it takes a lot more effort to smile these days, saying 'triple' just means that - no statistics involved. But I do agree, children and babies laugh so much more than adults do. When is the time or at what phase does this transition happen in a person?
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        Aug 15 2011: Children and babies laugh just as openly as they express a whole array of emotions such as anger and hurt. They cry too. However, with adults we teach children at a cetain age that it is inappropriate to openly engage in their emotions...instead we teach them to surpress and the appropriate times in which it is OK to express emotions (even if they are authentically feeling something entirely different within!)

        You can laugh with friends and at play, but not during prayer or in religious ceremonies for instance. You cannot laugh during class, you must sit still and listen. I mean if you really sit down and think about the social norms of what we teach are appropriate and innappropriate, you can then began to see how this transition is formed and takes place.

        Teenagers naturally rebell as they are not children and quite aware of the intense emotions and changes they are going through. I remember quite well feeling as though our dreams, our own beings would die once we became like the adults we see around us. We didn't want that world of hating work, getting up, watching TV, going to sleep, paying dues and bills. We wanted to LIVE life.

        This is just my personal experience of course, but even without it, adults learned to supress and we rarely ever get to truly connect with others authentically. We are compartmentalized beings, where you are a mother, sister, daughter, co-worker, employee, or employer/manager,friend and all these have certain expectations that are learned. When do we get to really discover who we really are? Ourr passions and dreams and place and contribution to this fabric of life?

        Most rather veg after dealing with an array of expectations. Or escape. Let lose, party, laugh, and/or entertain ourselves in various ways. We need a release, and that release can be different depending on person, beliefs, culture, etc.

        To me, I find that the materialistic relief as well as entertainment only temporary releases. We must go deep
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    Sep 13 2011: We forget to seek JOY in the simplest things in life. I disagree that people shouldn't look for greater pleasing of their senses but it's just as important to engage in enjoyment of the little things: a great cup of coffee, a blossoming flower in December, a snow-covered mountain, the yellowness of autumn and so on.
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    Sep 9 2011: Children and babies laugh just as openly as they express a whole array of emotions such as anger and hurt. They cry too. However, with adults we teach children at a cetain age that it is inappropriate to openly engage in their emotions...instead we teach them to surpress and the appropriate times in which it is OK to express emotions (even if they are authentically feeling something entirely different within!) (Gracias Leila Oicles).

    This is the true human nature ... this is the truth of "Adult" modern ....
    you can not laugh at when you can not flow smoothly mourn .... Adults learn
    remove from our lives crying and pain .... but we know that this is the worst decicion
    lie that humans may have eaten .... this is a collective disease ...
    Human reality and the cure for this disease is a transparent disclosure, consistent and
    aware of our emotions ... Now the adult needs to understand and learn to identify all
    kinds of emotions in their daily lives ... How? beginning to raise awareness of our intelligence
    and emotional conditions and create opportunities for families to our emotions to flow and pain,
    anger, fear and sadness starts to express in our families and our community,
    To that end we understand the pleasure of the algria and welfare, is to be aware
    that there is also pain and sadness we feel pain and sorrow to
    our death ... WE ARE NOT PERFECT. True perfection is in being able to enjoy the
    pain and sorrow with peace and quiet to also experience the joy and happiness
    peace and quiet. The perfection of man is this and fulfill our duty ...
    must first start from within ourselves.
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    Aug 14 2011: Before technologies we see today that connect us on a global level, depression did exist, it just wasn't diagnosed, treated or understood the way it is today. All generations throughout the span of history in different parts of the world had to deal with levels of change and adapting societally to that change. We could speak on a grand scale such as warfare, economic depressions, scientific and tecnological progress, but it is really about how we relate, deal, connect and give meaning to these shifts and changes. It forces us to look at the world from a different perspective, and for some that can be quite uncomfortable.

    In the last 30 years we have had such a shift in technology which gives vast amounts of information, hence the Information Age. This cross spans a few generations, where I was interestingly enough trying to teach my grandmother how to click an icon on the computer today!

    Science and technology is not just about having to adapt in order to incorprate it in our daily lives. It isn't even just about information overload where we once had very limited stimuli and choices where now it seems overwhelmingly limitless! I feel the core of the issue is how we associate our former ideologies or beliefs with the progress of science and technology. Sometimes these things conflict, and in the meantime what we seem to be doing now is moving so fast, that our emotional, meaningful side cannot catch up.

    If you look at literature, art, societal and social changes (even racism for instance) you will see patterns where any advances in technology and science were made effected us in many ways making us reinvent ourselves, our existence and the meaning for our existence.

    We are adjusting to this cross generational globalism of vast info at our finger tips. Technology will keep advancing as will science. So now we are searching for our meaningful place within. Isn't it interesting that the law of attraction, the Secret and self help industry is booming?