I stood there, unable to speak, tears welling up in my eyes
Yeah, not the first thing you’d expect to read in a post about how to improve your sense of humour.
I was standing at my next-door neighbours front door, laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of what I was about to ask them. By the time they opened the front door, the tears were rolling down my cheeks and my chest hurt from belly laughing!
The situation occurred some years ago when my previous parrot, Chico, climbed from the deck and into the branches of the enormous Frangipani tree in my garden. He got right up to the top, but he was struggling to find his way back down. No matter how much I encouraged him, he remained stuck.
There was only one option
I needed to borrow my next-door neighbour’s ladder and climb the tree.
As I walked around to my long-suffering neighbours, I wondered how I was going to explain that I needed their ladder to rescue my bird — from a tree! That’s when I started laughing.
“Chico’s stuck up the tree!”
I eventually blurted out in between breaths as I stood at their door.
“But he’s a bird”, said Bill, “can’t he fly down?” The question just made me laugh harder. I knew the situation was completely absurd — that’s what made it so hilarious.
In the end, Bill gave up asking questions and just handed me the ladder. The incident no doubt added further evidence to support his opinion that the woman next door was completely crazy.
Even today, just writing about this event makes me laugh.
Why improve your sense of humour?
If you need logical reasons — other than humour is fun — here are just a few:
- Humour can help you get your message across in ways that people can remember more easily. A funny story can help embed a message.
- When you teach something and make it funny, people will remember and retain the information because they will associate the laughter with what they learnt. The learning and the laughter become anchored together.
- People are more likely to listen to humorous material than to bland information.
- Many singles list a sense of humour as an important attribute in a potential mate 😊.
- Humorous people have higher verbal, non-verbal and emotional intelligence.
- Laughter causes your body to release endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. These naturally reduce stress and pain, boost immunity and help us feel closer to others.
- Laughter protects the heart, burns calories and relaxes your entire body.
- It’s fun to be around people who have a sense of humour.
- It makes problems seem easier to deal with. My post How Belly Aching Laughter Helps You Resolve a Problem will give you more specific information.
“I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.”
~ Frank A. Clark
So, improving your sense of humour can have benefits in just about every aspect of your life.
What other reasons do you need to improve your sense of humour?
Using humour is a skill — which means you can learn it and get better with practice and repetition.
If you’re someone who would like to improve your sense of humour — or even if you’d just like to laugh more — this post will help.
So, now you have some reasons for improving your sense of humour, let’s get into it!
Here’s an overview of the 14 ways to improve your sense of humour
- Ask yourself, will you look back and laugh?
- Watch comedy on TV or at the movies
- Notice the ridiculousness of everyday situations
- Stop watching the news!
- Be playful
- Organise a comedy evening
- Find and improve your unique sense of humour
- Watch stand-up comedians
- Add a humour item to your ‘to do list’ each day
- Learn to tell jokes
- Notice what’s funny when you’re out and about
- Laugh at yourself
- Examine your own ways of thinking and your approach to life
1. Ask yourself, 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! Think about how you could relate what’s happened in a way that others will find funny.
2. Watch comedy on TV or at the movies
Even without consciously learning how to improve your sense of humour, experiencing it regularly will make you more likely to notice potentially humorous situations. Norman Cousins, in his 1979 book ‘Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient’ remarked that laughing at Marx Brothers films helped him control pain, improve his illness, 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 things are funny in some context. Comedians are adept at finding the humour in ordinary situations and circumstances. They develop an ability to observe and exaggerate the ridiculousness of normal, everyday situations.
By taking a fresh look at the conditions of your day-to-day life, you’ll describe your life in uniquely funny and insightful ways — and improve your sense of humour.
For example, when leaving a big event, I saw the people conducting the traffic were wearing camouflage clothing! Camouflage should minimise the risk of you being seen; it’s designed to hide you! Some of these traffic controllers wore day-glow orange jackets on top of their camouflage gear — apparently confused about whether they were supposed to be seen!
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 a quirky sense of humour.
It’s often these twists on simple daily observations that comedians use as the basis for making us laugh.
4. Stop watching the news!
TV news is perfect 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 believe 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. Those stories don’t make the news each evening.
Only the comparatively tiny ‘bad news’ articles make the headlines — and then they’re milked for all they’re worth to create fear and anxiety.
It’s easy to become obsessive about negative news programmes. (Why do you think they’re called ‘programmes’?) Wean yourself off this addiction if you want to live a happier life. If you want to improve your sense of humour, watch comedy instead.
5. Be playful
You don’t have to be silly to be playful. Cultivate an attitude and demeanour of playfulness and curiosity. 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 express itself. Watch children for clues.
6. Organise a comedy evening
Find a funny film. 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 join in.
7. Find and improve your unique 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 type 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 everyday situations. By watching stand up regularly, you’ll realise the elements that contribute to making something funny.
Use what you notice to take a fresh look at the circumstances of your day-to-day life. You’ll look at life in a uniquely funny way and discover ways to express yourself in a manner that makes people smile.
Did you know that some research done in Australia showed that when people are smiling, they automatically speak more positively? If you’re thinking more positively it’s easier to see the funny side of life.
“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
10. Add a humour item to your ‘to do list’ each day
Seriously, if you want to improve your sense of humour, give it some attention. Read a couple of paragraphs from a funny book, watch an amusing video, learn a joke. It only need take a few minutes. Cross it off when you’ve done it and remember to add it to the following day’s list. Humour isn’t a one-off event!
11. Learn to tell jokes
Anyone can tell a joke. I’d suggest sticking to inoffensive ‘dad’ jokes to start with! There are thousands on the internet if you do a search. Find one that makes you laugh and make it your own. Tell it 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. I find I don’t need to write the whole joke out, just a few key words will jog my memory.
12. Notice what’s funny when you’re out and about
Road signs can be hilarious! Even street names. What’s earnest and grave in one language can be hysterical in another. Solemn signs can be completely mad! Here’s one I saw on a trip to the West Coast of the South Island.
13. Laugh at yourself
You don’t have to take yourself seriously. If you’re alive, you’ve probably done some embarrassing or silly things. (I’ll admit to more than my fair share!)
“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.”
~ Oscar Wilde
Sharing those experiences with others not only gives them a laugh, but shows you’re human. It’ll improve your ability to find and express humour. Having other people laugh is a great way to experience laughter yourself and helps build good relationships with others.
14. Examine your own ways of thinking and your approach to life
- Exaggerate your frustrations and annoyances to find the humour and create an entertaining story. In the process of finding it, you’ll improve your sense of humour and lose the associated stress.
- What unpleasant experiences have you had that you can describe to others in an entertaining way?
- Children say the darndest things. If you have kids, they can be a valuable source of humour.
As you intentionally look for ways to improve your sense of humour and bring more laughter into your life, you’ll focus the Reticular Activating System (RAS) at the back of your brain.
The RAS connects the conscious part of your brain with the unconscious part of your brain, and makes you notice the things you’re interested in. So, the more you pay attention to humour, the more your brain will filter for it.
The RAS helps you focus on your goals
When you’re focused on your goals, you’re much more likely to notice the opportunities that will lead you to your outcome. If developing your sense of humour is a goal, and you’d like some help with that, please consider my Goal Setting Book.
Remind yourself of this quote from Elbert Hubbard
“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out alive.”
You don’t need a parrot to make you laugh
Or get you into trouble , but mine have always done both! They are very entertaining and companionable avians with a distinct sense of humour and fun.
If you like to laugh, check out the Fun and Laughter tag.
If you think your ears can take it listen to me and Shaggy (my current parrot) singing together. (Neither of us can sing — take this as a warning! 😊). But you will hear how he loves to laugh.
By the way, I didn’t shove Shaggy into this pipe, it’s one of his favourite places to ‘hide’ — and it’s much easier to retrieve him from his hidey-hole than climbing up a ladder to the top of tree!
PS. The dog in the top photo is Rowf, my first Bearded Collie — he was a nut case. He lived to entertain people (can’t you tell?). And yes, I do seem to have a penchant for peculiar pets!