It’s April Fools Day!

April fools dauIt’s April Fools Day, and we’re observing it unconventionally—we’re reminding you of what day it is.

And instead of implanting a bogus Bucky product news item here—say, the introduction of a new buckwheat-filled SmartPillow that teaches you a foreign language as you sleep—we’re offering a few serious words in support of silliness.

Here in these times, we really need the interlude of a day devoted to harmless pranks and laughing at ourselves. There’s so much serious trouble in the news—war, mass murders, global warming, dysfunctional governments—that some break in the tension is vital.

It reminds us to take time for laughter, which is a too-often-neglected component of good health. Laughter relieves stress and helps dissipate tension. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s organic painkillers. There’s mounting scientific evidence that laughter may have therapeutic value in treating disease.

And on the personal level, an April Fools Day reminder to not take ourselves and our situations too seriously can improve a lot of things. Ever have a boss who seemed to approach even the most trivial issue with grim resolve, as if it were a life-and-death matter? He or she made the whole place miserable, right?

People who have the perspective to laugh at the little things and defuse the big ones with a light touch of humor are a lot more popular. And they seem to get more done, too.

Tina Fey, who preceded her career as comedienne and actress with a stint as head writer for Saturday Night Live—a high-stress job, for sure—kept a useful sense of perspective about it, which she naturally expressed with a joke: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on because it’s eleven-thirty.”

The best April Fools pranks are neither nasty nor destructive, but are deftly aimed to force the victims to laugh at themselves—especially if that’s something they’re not naturally inclined to do. It’s good conditioning for those days when a difficult situation needs a healthy infusion of humor.

Which is just about every day in the life of a human.

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