I am a psychic. I can prove it.
Stop what you are doing…Take a moment…Let your guard down…Reach down to the back of your subconscious…Think back to your best times…Feel as though you are back in that moment reliving the experience…Hone in on the emotion resonating from this memory…What feelings does this memory illicit?…How did your body feel at that moment?…
You likely envisioned spending time with those you cared about the most. You felt happy. You were smiling. You were laughing.
Ok, I am not psychic whatsoever. I tend to lean more towards “psycho” rather than “psychic.” However, the odds are that your memories shared these common characteristics. Our best memories reflect happiness, being with our loved ones, and humor. We greatly underestimate the power that humor and laughter possesses.
Humor comes in many shapes and forms, and everyone enjoys humor differently. In my years of discussing humor with my clients, two perspectives dominate the conversation. The first comes from a writing standpoint. It breaks down humor into twenty types. For purposes of this post, I am going to leave a link here that sums them up beautifully (https://www.dailywritingtips.com/20-types-and-forms-of-humor/ ). I like this standpoint for its specificity and shedding light onto lesser known forms of humor. However, I will focus on the psychological perspective of humor that narrows down those twenty to four (Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003).
- Self-defeating humor (i.e. Rodney Dangerfield) – It is important to highlight that not all forms of humor are necessarily the most healthy and can actually do more harm than good. This is the case for when an individual puts themselves down. Self-defeating humor is most often associated with self-pity or a “poor me” mentality. Some people use it as a defense mechanism to target themselves before someone else even has the chance to do so.
- Aggressive Humor (i.e. Lisa Lampanelli, Lewis Black, Joan Rivers) – On the flip side, some people are just straight up bullies with their humors. They put others down and insult them. Some will find it funny, and others will laugh out of discomfort to shield what they are really feeling.
- Affiliative Humor (i.e. Jerry Seinfeld) – There are so many things in life that are absolutely absurd. With affiliative humor, we find the humor in the little, everyday things around us. What makes this style healthy is its ability to bring others together because almost anyone can see what makes these jokes funny. This was the secret behind the viral music video “What Does The Fox Say?” by Ylvis and America’s Funniest Home Videos. People of all ages and backgrounds can watch it and see the ridiculousness in it.
- Self-Enhancing Humor (i.e. Jon Stewart) – Yet again, looking for the humor in everyday situations and taking life in stride. You make yourself the butt of the joke, but in a good-natured way versus putting yourself down. It can be an extremely healthy coping skill.
You have to understand your own sense of humor, others’ senses of humor, and what others might/might not find funny. Keeping this in mind can greatly benefit one’s overall well-being.
Physical. Humor benefits the body’s circulation, lungs, and muscles. It relieves tension throughout the body and actually boosts your immune system (Ferrigno, 2013). Laughter really is the best medicine.
Social. Would you rather be around a Debbie Downer or Laughing Linda? Funny people receive positive attention and reciprocate the positivity to those around them. A good sense of humor is also a highly desirable characteristic for friendships and significant others (McGraw, 2011). These individuals usually have the ability to make awkward situations less awkward, cure boredom, and ease tension in conflict (Ferrigno, 2013).
Psychological. Humor helps lighten the impact of more serious emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger. A snicker or giggle might help avoid a major breakdown or fallout. It helps to cope in a positive manner in the face of stress and adversity (McGraw, 2011). Research has even shown to help with the emotional adjustment during the grieving process following the death of a loved one (Ferrigno, 2013). Individuals laughed about funny memories of the deceased rather than mourning and seeing it through a depressing perspective.
I am going to end this post with my favorite joke of all-time.
A lion challenged a cheetah to a race across the Serengeti. The cheetah laughed in the lion’s face mockingly. They lined up and took off.
The cheetah won by a landslide with the lion following in tow. Out of breath, the lion said, “Yo man, you’re a cheetah.”
The cheetah looked back at him, “Nah man, you’re lion.”
-The Caring Counselor
Ferrigno, S. (2013, April 20). Laughter Benefits: Why Humor Is The Best Way To Cope. Retrieved from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/20/laughter-benefits-humor-to-cope_n_3111169.html
Martin, R., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). ndividual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(1), 48–75. doi:10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00534-2
McGraw, P. (2011, September 14). The Importance of Humor Research. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-humor-code/201109/the-importance-humor-research
Nichol, M. (2017). 20 Types and Forms of Humor. Retrieved February 2, 2018, from Daily Writing Tips: https://www.dailywritingtips.com/20-types-and-forms-of-humor/
Whipple, C., & Calvert, S. (2008, May). The Connection between Laughter, Humor, and Good Health. Retrieved February 2, 2018, from University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/hsw-caw-807.pdf