Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Broken pencil.
Broken pencil who?
Never mind, it’s pointless!

Not everyone likes a corny knock-knock joke, but I do. Whether you prefer playfulness, cleverness, or full-on belly laughing, we can all probably use a spoonful of humor to provide levity right now.

It’s easy to forget to laugh and have fun when what’s happening around and within us is so serious. Each of us is facing our own bundle of inconveniences, losses, and sacrifices. Humor can provide a brief, but necessary, respite from these stressors.

There are potentially infinite ways to cultivate humor. And great news: You don’t have to be a stand-up comic to appreciate and share humor.

The Inspiration

Over the past few weeks, the character strength humor, the human capacity for laughter and playfulness, has been coming up often in my personal and professional conversations.  For instance, I recently hosted a virtual family Zoom birthday party for my younger sister. One highlight was the guest appearance by Tito, the rescued cow, from Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary. Tito was invited by my older sister as a surprise. We were told his appearance is a way to change up the flow of Zoom calls. It did! It was very “amooooooosing!” Perhaps even “moooooving.” 

Humor can help us shift from tension to relaxation. Our personal experiences, along with research, support this. Here’s a great article from the Mayo Clinic about the benefits of humor. It mentions that humor:

  • Lowers the stress response, depression, and anxiety
  • Helps relieve pain
  • Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
  • Boosts our ability to cope

As long as it isn’t at the expense of others or ill-timed, humor is a strength that can be practiced and developed. However, situations that end in hurt feelings or insult may be due to the overuse of humor. We each have our own sensitivities, so when we’re with others it’s important to engage in humor judiciously, based on knowledge of the situation and the audience involved.

When you pause in your day for a coffee or water break, think about adding a spoonful of humor. Although this practice is not a substitute for professional medical care, it might be just the right prescription for your body and mind right now.

The Practice

Below are a few things you can do to bring more humor into your life. Of course, you can also play with your own ideas. Humor is contagious, so think about sharing a spoonful with others for multiples of fun!

  1. Try laughter yoga. Whether you’re genuinely laughing or just making laughter sounds, your body is getting the same health benefits.
  2. Watch and share funny videos. I’ve shared these laughing quadruplets many times, and they never fail to amuse.
  3. Find and share the jokes you enjoy. Google “funny jokes” and you’ll find thousands of sources. You’ll have to find the sources that resonate with you.
  4. Have a conversation using different voices or accents.
  5. Watch improv. I love the zany antics in Whose Line Is It Anyway? Notice the overuse of humor toward the end.

The Reflection

Adding a bit more humor into my day _____________________. 

My reflection, for example, is:

Adding a bit more humor into my day provided much-needed lightness and the sense that I could breathe fully for the first time in a while.

Take your time with this reflection. You might wish to journal or speak with a trusted friend about it. Feel free to let your thoughts flow, free of self-judgment.

Try a spoonful of humor. It might be just what the doctor ordered!

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