By Wilma Bedford
Humour is essential for happiness and the skill to develop it and to find and nurture it in even the darkest of times protect us against despair.
The value and benefits of humour are even mentioned and praised in Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
What does it mean to have a sense of humour? It is the cognitive ability to grasp a joke, to enjoy a joke, living behavioural patterns of joking and laughing, having a merry and humoristic temperament, a non-serious outlook on life and the ability to use humour in dark times. In a nutshell, it is to be funny or appreciate funny things.
In several countries humour for wellbeing is so highly rated that humoristic skills programmes are offered to help with the improvement of emotional wellbeing through self-efficiency, positive thinking, optimism and the perception of being in control by promoting humour and decreasing negative thinking and perceptions of stress, depression and anxiety.
Humour therapy research on senior citizens showed that the group who received a dose of jokes and funny stories daily for eight weeks were happier and experienced less pain and loneliness.
It is laughing itself that holds all the benefits for you – not necessarily to let others laugh. It is not important to be funny for other people’s enjoyment; be the consumer of humour – laugh by yourself and at yourself. To get the benefits of humour, let others tell the jokes, just listen and laugh heartily.
Humour is an instrument for handling our everyday challenges and promote a happier life. A good sense of humour is a personal characteristic that facilitates psychological wellbeing and resilience. It is a buffer against the negative impact of stressors and becomes the lens through which we see the world.
Humour makes you reevaluate a stressful event as non-threatening and allows you to put the world around you in a more positive perspective.
Humour has an analgesic quality, it relieves the emotional pain and lets us remember the joys of the past. During the Black Death of 1346–1353, which wiped out one-third of the European population, the stories of a Florentine author brought relief to the remaining population who were also in quarantine. It didn’t make fun of death and suffering but rather confirmed that humour can be found in even the most miserable circumstances – but to see and find it depend on one’s outlook on life.
Laughing is also a social lubricant; it is not necessarily laughing at a joke or telling a joke but it is used to show emotions such as agreement or geniality.
The type of humour you enjoy and share matters. Humour is positive when it does not belittle others or yourself but when you can still laugh at your own circumstances.
Timing is essential for effective humour. A joke can help people handle loss and grievances when it is told not too soon or too long after the event; a joke during an appalling disaster would be reprehensible while a joke about something that happened in 1860 will fall flat because the event has been long forgotten.
Improve your happiness and quality of life by avoiding the anger and humourlessness but take care that your humour is not out of place, and timing is important.
Stay positive. Negative, dark, derisive, caustic jokes are demoralising and although you impulsively feel like posting the joke on social media and will get some instant pleasure out of it, it will make your and others’ happiness meter take a dip. Avoid jokes with a sexual, political or religious content, it will definitely be taken as insulting.
A good sense of humour is the foundation for a positive outlook on life, personal strength and wellbeing. Happy people take part in things that promote happiness, which results in better relationships, a stronger immune response and greater creativity. Some of the behavioural patterns that promote happiness, are to show gratefulness, altruism, counting your blessings, developing an optimistic outlook on life and to keep your sense of humour.
The Link Between Happiness and a Sense of Humor. A little laugh goes a long way.
Arthur C. Brooks AUGUST 12, 2021 https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/08/humor-happiness/619704
Sense of Humor, Stable Affect, and Psychological Well-Being
Arnie Cann Chantal Collette
University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA. Europe’s Journal of Psychology