Why We Should Laugh at Ourselves

Laughing, we know, can ease stress. It can strengthen social relationships and build trust. It can also help us cope with challenges.

The ability to turn our humor inward and laugh at ourselves eases the tension we feel about ourselves, allowing us to feel more at ease.

Self-Defeating Humor

According to the work of Jorge Torres Marín at the University of Granada Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC), self-defeating humor is one of the best ways to boost psychological well-being.

Marín explains, “In particular, we have observed that a greater tendency to employ self-defeating humor is indicative of high scores in psychological well-being dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability” (Marín, 2017).

Adaptive Humor

While adaptive styles of humor, such as affiliative humor, which is aimed at strengthening social relationships, or self-enhancing humor, which helps us maintain a humorous outlook in potentially stressful situations, have consistently been linked to indicators of positive psychological well-being such as happiness, satisfaction with life, hope, Marín and his team aimed to provide the psychology of humor with a well-founded, accurate theoretical body of knowledge.

Moreover, the goal was to discern the different behavioral tendencies related to the everyday use of humor, and classify them based on their adaptive natures.

The Effects of Humor

The researchers found the existence of a curvilinear relationship between prosocial humor and personality dimensions such as kindness and honesty – meaning that the more we tend to make humorous comments, the stronger our social relationships tend to be. Further, when we maintain a humorous perspective in adverse situations, we tend to manage anger more effectively (Marín et al., 2017).

Interestingly, the direction of our humor also predicts how well we manage anger. When we use aggressive humor aimed at covertly expressing anger at others, we have a greater propensity to experience anger in everyday life. However, when we use self-defeating humor, we tend to fare better psychologically, and feel less anger towards others. 

Much in the same way humor eases the tension in social relationships, when we laugh at ourselves it likely eases the tension we feel about ourselves. The result is that we feel more at ease – however flawed we may think we are.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

The Use of Humor in Therapy is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews the risks and benefits of using humor in therapy and the relevant historical controversies of this proposal. Closeout Course #21-02 | 2015 | 24 pages | 14 posttest question

Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in Therapy is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the concept of happiness, from common myths to the overriding factors that directly increase our feelings of contentment. Course #40-45 | 2018 | 57 pages | 25 posttest questions

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