By: Natalie Rice-Thorp, Ph.D. | November 1, 2019
Laughing out loud. When was the last time you did that….I mean really laughed out loud, not just responded with a smile to an emoji? And, did you know that humor is an all-purpose super power waiting to be unlocked every day? Psychologically speaking, I can announce that it is so!
Embrace your humor superpower in ways like the following:
- Humor can help you be physically and mentally healthier
- Humor can help you cope with difficult things
- Humor can bring you closer in your relationships
- Humor can do your taxes! (Okay, I was just joking about that last one.)
Do you juggle a busy schedule but want bonding time with your children?
Laugh together by telling them a funny story from your past or theirs. You can do this essentially anywhere, such as while driving to soccer, eating a meal, shopping for groceries, looking for their lost objects, you get the point. You get bonus points for sharing an embarrassing story about yourself because you can use it as a teaching moment. Teach them that embarrassing events feel horrible at the time but that they will not “die” from embarrassment. That same event can make a funny future story for them to share with their own kids or friends. A common icebreaker in college is “share an embarrassing moment”, it is never too early to start generating options! Extra bonus points if you teach them this trick before the ‘tween years. Create double bonus points by making your children laugh so hard that they topple over.
Do you want to deepen your connection with your partner or friend?
Laugh regularly together. Share funny things with each other. Develop “inside jokes” with each other. Caution: Avoid sarcasm. The super power doesn’t work if someone ends up feeling hurt in the exchange.
Do you want to feel better after a horrible day?
Make a funny story about your day and tell it to yourself or someone else, include “…and then you will never believe what happened next!” Try also to watch, listen to, or read something funny. Extra bonus points accrue when that funny something involves a cute animal. (Watching nature usually improves our mood.) Create double bonus points when you can hear a person’s response to your story while you tell it, in which case your story can have an even more calming effect upon you.
Do you want to lower blood pressure and get a quick immune system boost?
Laugh! As above, watch, listen to, or read something funny for yourself as your own laughter can increase the feel-good endorphins released by your brain. It helps decrease your blood pressure and better manages your physical stress response. A good laugh helps to relax your muscles, decrease pain, and boost your immune system.
On a personal note
I use humor every day in both my personal and professional life, and I highly recommend it. Over the years, I unlocked my own humor super powers to expand my tool box. I’ve discovered that narrating kids’ activities with a dramatic flair can get them to do tasks they would otherwise try to avoid. Try dramatized humor like this:
“The crowd waits as anticipation builds…can he put the clothes in the hamper? Does he have the strength? Does he have the courage? And the crowd goes WILD, YES! He did it! The world is safe from dirty laundry….for now.”
I find joy in writing funny stories or songs about stressful road trips or family experiences. (Think Twelve Days of Christmas but with twelve days of ridiculous). Writing in real time can be quite soothing and a nice distraction from the chaos unfolding in front of you.
When you are on the lookout for funny things, you will notice more funny things and get more of the good stuff listed above. LOL! Get creative and unlock your humor super power today!