How to improve your sense of humor

Tips for improving your sense of humor.

Have you ever heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine?” I prefer to be around people who make me laugh or are playful. The laughter feeds my soul and I find myself wanting more. I recently attended a workshop conducted by the World Laugher Tour in Columbus, Ohio to become a Certified Laughter Leader. I attended because of my curiosity about the benefits of laughter. I wanted to learn how it could enhance my personal and professional development. In the workshop, I learned how to conduct laughter clubs. or laughter therapy sessions, and received a wealth of references to continue my learning!

One of the references mentioned was a book called “Compassionate Laugher – Jest for Your Health” by Patty Wooten. In her book, she describes different types of humor. She described humor as coming from the heart. She states that humor is a complex phenomenon that is an essential part of human nature. Throughout the ages, anthropologists have never found a culture or society that was devoid of humor. We humans begin to smile and laugh during the first few months of life. To experience the joy that humor can bring, we must share in the laughter with others. If we want to improve our sense of humor, we must learn to look for the absurdity in every moment.

To improve our sense of humor, begin by smiling! A smile invites interaction and expresses understanding. It engages the entire body. Wooten goes on to explain that humor comes from a spirit of playfulness and that we can access our playfulness from acting silly. The word “silly” is derived from two old European words “Seely” and “Saelig,” both of which mean happy, joyful, and blessed. Silly people are spontaneous and playful with everything in their environment. Having a sense of humor helps us to recognize the absurdity in situations of tension, frustration and tragedy.

Besides smiling, looking for and being more playful or silly, Wooten provides these additional steps to find or create humor:

  • Exaggerate and overstate the problem - Making the problem bigger than life helps to regain humorous perspective. Cartoon caricatures, slapstick comedy, and clowning antics all are based on exaggeration.
  • Look for irony - This helps us identify the craziness that exists in our society.
  • Learn to appreciate surprise - The surprise ending of a joke stimulates laughter. The funniness of a joke depends upon its “surprise” element. Learn to appreciate surprise and you will laugh a whole lot more!

Practice these skills or steps to invite humor into your daily life. Perhaps you will find yourself laughing more and your attitude or demeanor a little more positive, happy and joyful. If you want to know more about how to develop more humor and a positive mindset, participate in one of Michigan State University Extension’s Stress Less with Mindfulness workshops.

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