Using Humor to Find Happiness


It’s easy to get stuck on the numbers on the scale when we want to lose weight, but numbers do not tell the whole story: It’s much more than weight we need to lose.

We need to lose self-recrimination. We need to lose self-shaming. We need to lose our attachment to weight as the single measure of self-worth.

But just how do we do that?

One way, say researchers from the University of Granada Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center, is to use a little humor.

Individuals who frequently use self-deprecating humor – aimed at gaining the approval of others through self-mockery – say Jorge Torres Marín and his team, exhibit greater levels of psychological well-being (Marín et al., 2018).

Moreover, Marín notes that a greater tendency to employ self-deprecating humor is indicative of high scores in psychological well-being dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability (Marín et al., 2018).

While the effects of self-deprecating humor on well-being may differ depending on where the research takes place, and be influenced by cultural norms, Marín suggests that new studies focus on analyzing potential cultural differences in the use of this kind of humor.

The psychology of humor, however, fits within a well-founded, accurate theoretical body of knowledge that allows for different behavioral tendencies related to the everyday use of humor to be explored – such as the affiliative use of humor, which is aimed at strengthening social relationships, or self-enhancing humor, which entails maintaining a humorous outlook in potentially stressful and adverse situations.

While these types of humor have consistently been linked to indicators of positive psychological well-being such as happiness, satisfaction with life, and hope, Marín and his team maintain that their data revealed the existence of a curvilinear relationship between prosocial humor and personality dimensions such as kindness and honesty (Marín et al., 2018).

Eliminating self-defeating behaviors isn’t easy, however, the process is made much easier when we can laugh a little – at ourselves.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in TherapyFinding 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. We will start with a discussion on why you, the clinician, need to know about happiness and how this information can help in your work with clients. We will then uncover mistakes we make when trying to attain happiness and look carefully at the actions we take and the beliefs that do not just obfuscate our happiness efforts, but often leave us less happy. Next, we will explore the ways in which our mindset influences our feelings of happiness and the many ways we can fundamentally change our levels of well-being, not just immediately, but for many years to come. The final section of this course contains exercises you can use with clients to cultivate and sustain a lifelong habit of happiness. Course #40-45 | 2018 | 57 pages | 25 posttest questions

Beyond Calories & Exercise: Eliminating Self-Defeating BehaviorsBeyond Calories & Exercise: Eliminating Self-Defeating Behaviors is a 5-hour online continuing education (CE) course that “walks” readers through the process of replacing their self-defeating weight issues with healthy, positive, and productive life-style behaviors. It moves beyond the “burn more calories than you consume” concept to encompass the emotional aspects of eating and of gaining and losing weight. Through 16 included exercises, you will learn how to identify your self-defeating behaviors (SDBs), analyze and understand them, and then replace them with life-giving actions that lead to permanent behavioral change. Course #50-10 | 2013 | 49 pages | 35 posttest questions

The Use of Humor in TherapyThe 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. Should therapists and counselors use humor as a therapeutic technique? If so, should they be formally trained in those procedures before their implementation? The paucity of rigorous empirical research on the effectiveness of this form of clinical intervention is exceeded only by the absence of any training for those practitioners interested in applying humor techniques. In this course a representative sample of its many advocates’ recommendations to incorporate humor in the practice of psychological therapies is reviewed. Therapeutic humor is defined, the role of therapists’ personal qualities is discussed, and possible reasons for the profession’s past resistance to promoting humor in therapy are described. Research perspectives for the evaluation of humor training are presented with illustrative examples of important empirical questions still needing to be answered. Closeout Course #21-02 | 2015 | 24 pages | 14 posttest questions

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Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

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