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12 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Sense of Humour

1 Mar 2017

12 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Sense of Humour

My parrot got stuck up a tree!

Many years ago, my previous parrot, Chico climbed the enormous Frangipani tree in my garden.

Humour-quaker in tree

He got stuck close to the top and I couldn’t get down. I needed to go next door and borrow the neighbour’s ladder to retrieve him.

I walked around to my long-suffering neighbours, wondering how I was going to explain that I needed their ladder to climb the tree so that I could rescue my bird!

By the time I got to the front door, I was laughing so hard at the preposterousness of the situation that I could hardly speak! I’m sure my lovely neighbours thought the whole episode was just another mad-cap event in the life of the crazy woman next door.

Many things are funny in some context

I can find things to laugh at in even the most mundane situations, but I’ve realised that some people have difficulty in finding humour and even in laughing. So if you’re one of those people – or even if you’d just like to laugh more, this article is for you.

1. Will you look back and laugh?

If something goes wrong in your life, ask yourself, “Is this something I’ll look back on and laugh about in the months or years to come?” If the answer is yes – then why wait months or years? Start laughing straight away!

2. Watch comedy on TV or at the movies

Norman Cousins, in his 1979 book ‘Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient’ stated that laughing at Marx Brothers films helped him control pain, make his illness better/manageable and helped with his stress levels. He wrote, “Laughter is an antidote to apprehension and panic. It creates a mood in which the other positive emotions can be put to work too. When you laugh, you are more likely to see the bright side of a situation and have a more positive outlook, which ultimately promotes healing.”

3. Notice the ridiculousness of everyday situations

Many comedians are adept at finding the humour in ordinary situations and circumstances. They develop an ability to see and then exaggerate the ridiculousness of normal, everyday situations. By taking a fresh look at the conditions of your day-to-day life, you’ll begin to find ways to describe your life in uniquely funny ways and improve your sense of humour.

For example, when leaving a big event, I noticed the people conducting the traffic were wearing camouflage clothing! Camouflage is supposed to minimise the risk of you being seen – to hide you! Some of these traffic controllers were apparently confused too because on top of their camouflage gear they wore day glow orange jackets! It was as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be seen or not!

As I was considering all the implications of this strange way of dressing, my mind drifted to some imaginary newspaper headlines:
“Invisible traffic controllers run over by bus.”
“Camouflaged traffic controllers ignored as traffic jams gridlock city.”
“Public claim traffic controllers were ‘invisible'”

OK. Well, it seemed funny to me at the time! But I have got a strange sense of humour.

It’s often these twists on simple daily observations that comedians use as the basis for their humour – to make us laugh. Do the same with anything that’s annoying or frustrating.

4. Stop watching the News!

The TV News is great if you WANT to focus on everything that’s wrong with the world. But think about this logically. If you watch the news every day, it would be easy to get the idea that there’s nothing good happening. In fact, if you only watched the news, you’d probably be too afraid to venture out of your house!

There are millions of people all around the world creating delightful opportunities, doing good deeds, living happy lives and having lots of laughs that don’t make the news each evening. Only the comparatively tiny ‘bad news’ articles make the headlines – and then they get milked for all they’re worth. Wean yourself off this addiction if you want to live a happier life. Watch comedy instead.

5. Be playful

You don’t have to be silly to be playful. Cultivate an attitude and demeanour of playfulness. You know how some people always seem to have that little sparkle in their eye and you wonder what they’re up to? That’s it. If you feel playful, your playfulness will find a way to express itself. Watch children for clues.

6. Have a comedy night

Rent a DVD or two. Invite your friends. Laugh! Share a meal if you feel like it. Ask them all to bring a joke to share. According to Robert R Provine in his book, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, you are 30 times more likely to laugh when you’re around other people than when you’re on your own. Laughing is contagious, so when we hear others laugh, we tend to join in.

7. Find your own sense of humour

A sense of humour is not the same as being funny. You don’t have to be funny to have a sense of humour. Find the kind of humour that makes you laugh, then read, watch or listen to more of it.

8. Watch stand-up comedians

As I mentioned in no.3, many comedians have an ability to notice and then exaggerate the ridiculousness of ordinary, everyday situations. By watching stand-up on a regular basis, you’ll become aware of the elements that go into making something funny. Use what you notice to take a fresh look at the circumstances of your day-to-day life. You’ll begin to find ways to look at life in a uniquely funny way and how to express yourself in a way that makes people smile.

9. Smile!

Did you know that some research done in Australia showed that when people are smiling, they automatically speak more positively?

10. Add a laughter item to your ‘to do list’ each day.

It could be reading a couple of paragraphs from a funny book, watching a YouTube video, reading a joke. It need only take a few minutes. Cross it off when you’ve done it and remember to add it to the following day’s list. Laughter isn’t a one off event!

11. Learn to tell jokes

If you believe you find it hard to remember jokes, then that’s what you’ll experience. So you could either change the belief first (see, (see, ‘Is What You’re Believing Holding You Back?’) or simply begin by remembering one simple joke. Tell that to as many people as will listen. Then learn another and repeat the exercise. Be careful, though; it can become addictive! You could also maintain a joke file on your computer or in a book.

12. Laugh at yourself

You don’t have to take yourself seriously. If you’re alive, you’ve probably done some embarrassing or silly things. Sharing them with others not only gives them a laugh but shows your human side. It’ll improve your ability to find and express humour. Learn to tell them to others in a funny way. Having other people laugh is a great way to experience laughter yourself (after all it is contagious!)

As you begin looking for ways to bring more humour and laughter to your life, you’ll programme the Reticular Activating System (RAS)* at the back of your brain. The more you pay attention to humour, the more you’ll notice it, and the more you notice it, the more you’ll pay attention to it!

Read more about the RAS and goals in this article, ‘The Scientific Way to Achieve Your Goals’ or in this one, ‘How Expectations Create Your Life Experiences’.

Remind yourself of the quote from Elbert Hubbard, “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out alive.”

PS. If you like to laugh check out the humour section or listen to my current parrot, Shaggy and I singing together. (Scroll down until you see the audio).

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