“Comedy is acting out optimism.” -Robin Williams
On the surface, laughter and humor may seem like one of the more frivolous things in life — something that, while good, doesn’t necessarily have any impact on the way you live. But what if there’s actually more to it? Maybe laughter and a sense of humor are more important to having a healthy, happy life than we give it credit for.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that there are plenty of things in this world that are no laughing matter. However, that doesn’t diminish the idea that always taking everything so seriously can damage your relationships with the people you care about, diminish your personal joy, and possibly lead to lonely and depressed emotions. Life without humor feels more like survival rather than truly living in a vibrant, meaningful sense.
So How’s Your Humor?
People who are predisposed to be unhumorous are fairly easy to spot, and maybe it’s working for them. But what about the neutral personality? Not a crusty troll devoid of humor, but not necessarily a bursting bubble of joy, either. Does your sense of humor have room to grow? Consider if any of these statements apply to you:
- You consistently feel stressed
- You feel the absolute need to be right or have the final word in personal or professional relationships
- You avoid situations where you may feel vulnerable
- You’re quickly defensive when teased or prodded
- Your first response to something going wrong is negative
- Being perceived as “cool” or “put together” is a priority for you
If any of these statements hit a nerve for you, it’s possible that you’re taking some aspects of your life too seriously. It’s time to consider what working on your sense of humor could do for your health and sanity.
Why is Having a Sense of Humor Important?
Did you know there’s an institute that does nothing but research character traits and how they play into people’s personal and professional lives? According to the VIA Institute on Character, “humor” is listed among the 24 key character strengths common among individuals. Not to get all mystical and hippytastic on you, but it’s described as a “transcendent” character strength, in that humor helps people feel more connected to each other on a personal level and collectively.
Humor Helps You Face the Unpredictable
Being in tune with your sense of humor can help you roll with the punches that life throws your way on a regular basis. When you loosen up about the unpredictable nature of life, you can begin to develop a sense of humor that instills self-confidence for facing challenges. Rather than becoming a tightly-wound ball of anxiety when, say, the car won’t start when you’ve piled everyone in for a road trip, you can laugh at yourself, the unpredictable nature of the event, and have more freedom to move through it with greater calm. When all of life’s “what ifs” weigh you down, being able to laugh in the face of uncertainty can provide you with the calm and peace of mind you need to navigate life’s daily messes.
Laughter and Your Self-Image
Picture someone in your life who you know takes themselves very seriously. How receptive are they to playful comments, or the ability to laugh at themselves? To the tightly-wound, humor can be like water on a cat. However, if you’re someone who is prone to taking themselves too seriously at times, developing a healthy sense of humor about yourself can take the pressure off unrealistic expectations. Being able to laugh at yourself is different from being self-deprecating, however. If you can have some playfulness in the way that you think about yourself, you’ll find that it’s easy to celebrate the qualities that are unique to you. Some of those things that you’re self-conscious about? They’re not flaws, they’re features. Humor helps you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and that’s good — ideally, you’ll be inhabiting your skin for a long time to come.
The Boon of Smiling & Laughter
The next time you’re having a bad day, or you’re in a foul mood, try something — force yourself to smile for one minute. Even if you’re totally faking it and it feels ridiculous. Many people have reported that the simple act of smiling, whether forced or natural, can actually improve your mood. Combine this with laughter, and it’s likely that you’ll immediately see an improvement in your demeanor. The presence of smiling and laughter can also improve the quality of your social relationships. I guess that, in this instance, “fake it ‘til you make it” actually works.
Humor and Communication Problem Solving
What’s the best way to get a toddler to eat their vegetables? Should you read them the nutritional information about the health benefits of peas? Explain to them the perils of a vitamin deficiency? What about making them laugh by pretending to pull a pea out of your nose? Which scenario seems more likely to get a positive response, even when language is limited? Humor allows you to enter into a creative space to problem solve and communicate. Take another example — cleaning up the rec room after a serious playtime session. If you can make a fun game out of the process, you’re much more likely to have a team working together pick up all the toys, rather than a miserable chain gang of downtrod children. You’ll notice that both of these examples are from a parent’s perspective, but it applies to other avenues of life. The point is that when you can be creative, fun, and humorous with your problem solving, the wheels of communication are greased, and those very same values can be passed on to the people around you.
People are Drawn to Humor
While your goal in life should never be to simply appease everyone around you, there is truth to the fact that people want to be around people that make them feel good. People want to be liked, and humor is a great way to draw people into your circle of influence that can be healthy. When you exercise a healthy sense of humor, people will naturally be drawn to you, providing some great opportunities for social, personal, and professional relationships to blossom.
Share Your Humor
What good is laughter if it’s only ever experienced alone? Gutty’s Comedy Club in Greenwood provides a family-friendly space for people to enjoy comedy together, either in-person or on-demand through our streaming services. Face life together with joy and laughter, and visit Gutty’s Comedy Club or order a comedy Livestream directly to your living room for as low as $10. We can’t wait to laugh with you!