How to Have a Sense of Humor

Three Parts:Understanding HumorLearning to JokeLooking on the Bright Side of Life

A sense of humor can be a person's greatest asset. This skill can help you interact easily with others, improve your health, and even help diffuse difficult situations. What's not often understood is that you don't have to be funny to have a sense of humor, you just have to learn to see the lighter side of things.

Part 1
Understanding Humor

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    Identify the benefits of humor. A sense of humor allows you to find humor in both positive and negative situations. A sense of humor may reduce stress and anxiety, as well as increase coping abilities and self-esteem. [1]
    • There are physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of humor, which include: reduced pain and stress, increased mood and creativity, increased friendliness, and happier relationships with others. [2]
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    Recognize the difference between being funny and having a sense of humor. Being funny means being able to express humor: perhaps telling a laugh-filled story, a witty pun, or a well-timed joke. Having a sense of humor means having the ability to let go and not take everything so seriously, and being able to laugh at—or at least see the humor in—life's absurdities. [3]
    • You don't have to be funny to have a sense of humor, or be the one telling all the jokes.
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    Find your funny bone. What makes you laugh? What things make you smile and lighten up? This is one way to start helping your sense of humor. [4] There are various types of humor, such as bonding humor and laughing-at-life humor. [5]
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    Watch and learn. If you're not sure how to laugh or have a sense of humor about things, watch other people. How do your friends and family laugh at the world around them and the things that happen to them?
    • Try watching movies with varied humor, including films with Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Kristen Wiig, Steve Martin, or Chevy Chase. Watch comedy classics, such as Meet the Parents, Young Frankenstein, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Blazing Saddles, Trading Places, Finding Nemo, and Bridesmaids.
    • Be careful to observe other people, but don't just copy their humor. True humor is genuine and reflects your personality. [6]
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    Focus more on having fun than being funny. Having a sense of humor helps you have fun despite what life throws at you. That means you can laugh at life and poke fun at your situation. Remember to keep focused on having fun.

Part 2
Learning to Joke

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    Learn some jokes. Sharing humor with others can be a great way to connect. If you want to bring some humor to social functions, learn a few basic jokes. You can also look for humorous pictures, witty statements, and funny internet memes to share with others. Look for things that go with your style of humor.[7]
    • For example, try something like this: What do you call a line of rabbits walking backward? A receding hare line.[8]
    • What did the football coach say to the broken vending machine? Give me my quarterback!
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    Find the humor in commonalities. People tend to laugh at jokes that deal with their situations, where they live, or their beliefs. [9] Make a light joke about the weather or the city you live in to break the ice with people. If you are in the same business, make a joke about that profession.
    • When looking for something to say, comment on the weather. For example, "If it doesn't stop snowing, I'm going to have to ski to work."
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    Surround yourself with funny people. Think about your funny friends. How do they slip humor into the conversation? What kinds of jokes do they make?
    • Check out stand up comedians or watch videos online. Focus on their delivery, the topics, and how they turn the everyday into something humorous.
    • Observe the people in your life that you consider funny, and determine what it is you like about their humor that you can add to your own.
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    Practice. Practice making jokes so you can improve and become more natural. Start by using humor with trusted family and friends. Tell them your goal and ask them to be honest with you. Listen to them if they tell you that your jokes need improvement. As you become more comfortable, expand your comfort zone by inserting humor into conversations with people not as close to you.
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    Be careful not to offend people. As you develop your sense of humor, think about the context. Do you get offended easily when people are making jokes? Whether you are telling jokes or laughing at jokes, you want to be careful not to offend anyone or hurt their feelings. Having a sense of humor means you approach life with a good-natured attitude. You don't use others to get a laugh, and you don't laugh when people make fun of others. [10]
    • If you are telling jokes, think about context. Is this an appropriate joke for work, a date, or the group of people you are with? Will it offend someone?
    • Know the difference between punching up and punching down. Punching up challenges the status quo by poking at a powerful group. Punching down reinforces the status quo by making fun of a vulnerable or oppressed group.
    • Racist, sexist, and crude humor can be extremely offensive. Joking about a person's religion, political belief, and other belief systems may also cross into offensive territory. Save the tasteless, offensive jokes for your head or for those "anything goes" friends.
    • Put-down humor or aggressive humor is used to criticize and manipulate through teasing, sarcasm, and ridicule.[11] This can be funny when directed at public figures, but can be extremely hurtful if used against friends and take a toll on personal relationships.[12]

Part 3
Looking on the Bright Side of Life

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    Learn to laugh. Laughter is a key to a sense of humor. Focus on laughing more every day, even laughing at yourself. Enjoy small things, find humor in everyday situations, and find humor in life's misfortunes. Smile as often as you can. Try making other people laugh, too. Make laughing a priority, for yourself and for others.[13]
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    Laugh instead of reacting. When you find yourself in a tense situation, step back and laugh. Anger is a powerful emotion, but laughter also has a powerful hold over our minds and bodies. Toss out a one-liner, laugh at the situation, or use humor to diffuse a situation. [14] It might save you some stress and heartache.
    • Sometimes tense or uncomfortable situations benefit from some comedic relief. A joke can take some of the tension away and make people feel more comfortable.
    • When you know you are about to go off on someone, crack a joke. If you're fighting with your sibling, you can say, "We've been fighting about this same thing for 10 years! Apparently, we're stuck as teenagers."
    • If someone makes fun of your old car, you can respond, "I bet you don't look as good as you did 15 years ago, either!"[15]
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    Let go of defensiveness. Let go of things that make you immediately feel defensive. Forget criticisms, judgments, and self-doubt. Instead, let those bothersome things roll off your back as you have a sense of humor about them. Everyone is not out to criticize you or to get you. Instead, smile or laugh.[16]
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    Accept yourself. Having a light-hearted attitude about yourself is one way of keeping a sense of humor. Learn to laugh at yourself. Everyone needs to take themselves seriously sometimes, but learning to laugh at yourself is a way to self-acceptance. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Don't take yourself too seriously, and keep good humor about your life.
    • Laugh off things you cannot control, such as age and appearance. If you have a big nose, make fun of yourself instead of getting upset. If you're getting older, laugh at the over the hill cards. Even if you feel uncomfortable making fun of yourself, shrug that stuff off, especially if you can't change it.
    • Laugh at your slight embarrassments and faults. It helps to see the humor in your humanness.
    • Think about the embarrassing moments in your life. Find a way to tell that story where it's humorous instead of mortifying. You will need to poke fun at yourself, and maybe exaggerate or dramatize the events.
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    Give others a break. Part of having a sense of humor is transferring that over to others. Just like how you shouldn't take yourself too seriously, try to use the same principle with others. Be forgiving and focus on positives when people make mistakes. Lightheartedly laugh off their mistakes like you would your own. This not only makes you feel good, but it makes them feel accepted, which can help your relationship.[17]
    • Instead of getting mad because your employee is always late to meetings, make it into a joke by saying, "Glad you're not running an airline."
    • While the joke your co-worker made might be tasteless or offensive, it might not require getting upset. Having a sense of humor means you let things roll off your back and you choose what to get upset about.
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    Get spontaneous. Most people won't do something because they're scared of failure or looking silly. Having a good sense of humor about yourself can help you get over these things holding you back. A sense of humor helps you get out of your head and let go of your inhibitions so you can experience life – no matter if your endeavors are successful or not. [18]
    • Having a sense of humor helps you realize that it's okay to look stupid. Even if you look stupid, just laugh at yourself. And then smile because you tried something new outside of your comfort zone. And finally, study the person's character. Learning their likes might bring a smile in their faces.


  • Enjoy things that make you laugh or smile. That's the best way to develop a sense of humor.
  • Keep at it! Humor is an important part of life.
  • Make sure you do funny things at the right time. Timing is crucial to make someone laugh. Not every situation needs humor.
  • Having a sense of humor will gain you a lot of friends. A funny person is always surrounded by people!
  • If you are feeling sad/depressed, think about/see something that made you laugh a lot in the past. It'll make you feel better immediately.

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