Humor is a powerful antidote for conflict, stress and pain. Psychologists have found that approaching life with a good sense of humor has a positive effect on your mental well-being and health. Besides providing personal health benefits, humor can have a positive impact on the health of your relationships. Humor and laughter are tools that can be used to create a pathway to greater communication and connection with other people.
5 Facts about Humor and Relationships
Here are some facts about humor that can help you strengthen your relationships:
1. Humor can introduce spontaneity. When humor is part of a relationship, there’s more spontaneity and room for creativity and freedom. Sharing laughter with a friend or loved one makes us feel less inhibited and more likely to share our deeper feelings.
2. Shared humor unites. It’s important for both people in a relationship to find humor in the same things. One-sided humor has the potential to damage the health of a relationship and destroy the sense of trust.
3. Humor should never be a weapon. When stress, anger or resentment build up, it’s possible for them to come out in the form of mean-spirited jokes. Be conscious of your motivation and make sure you’re not having a laugh at the expense of others. Humor that’s positive in nature brings people together; negative humor can drive them apart.
4. Use humor to avoid conflict. When humor is used effectively and is free of ridicule and sarcasm, it can reduce the amount of conflict and confrontation in a relationship. Sharing humor creates a connection that brings two people closer together.
5. Humor can make you more accepting of each other’s faults. When humor and laughter reduce stress, each person in the relationship can be more accepting of the other person’s faults. Frequent sincere laughter in a relationship can defuse anger and resentment.
The healthy effects of positive humor in relationships cannot be denied, but when humor is used incorrectly it can damage a relationship. Inappropriate humor can push people away, rather than helping to draw them closer together. What types of humor are damaging? People who rarely take things seriously and make a joke out of everything tend to shut people out. Self-deprecation is another form of unhealthy humor. Constantly making jokes at one’s own expense usually comes across as needy and insecure. Another type of unhealthy humor rises out of suppressed feelings of jealousy or anger and is expressed as hostility that is thinly disguised as humor.
Working on your Sense of Humor
Do you see yourself as a serious person with a limited sense of humor? Do you think you have a good sense of humor but the people around you don’t seem to agree? Many people who aren’t comfortable with humor are too self-conscious and worried about appearances to just let go and have some fun. Maybe it’s time to think about improving your sense of humor. Like other important life skills, humor and playfulness can be learned.
If you have doubts about your sense of humor, becoming more aware of your inner emotions will help you decide if your humor is sincere or if it’s the expression of pent-up negative feelings. When humor seems forced, insincere or too intense, there are probably underlying emotions working their way out.
Seeking honest humor and laughter in your personal relationships can bring you more satisfaction and make your relationships stronger. You can work on developing your sense of fun and play with activities like these:
• Smile more. This simple nonverbal gesture can actually make you feel happier and send other people a message about your sense of humor.
• Make laughter a social activity. Laughter can be contagious – notice how other people spontaneously join in when someone starts laughing. Shared laughter is a great energizer for any relationship.
• Share your embarrassing moments. Making a joke out of life’s small embarrassments is a great way to show that you’re not taking yourself too seriously.
• Nurture inside jokes. Inside jokes bring two people closer and serve as reminder of funny experiences that you’ve shared.
• Share an awareness of life’s absurdities. This is another good way to bond with other people, a kind of “we’re sane, but the rest of the world is nuts” attitude that will make you feel united.
Time spent sharing humor and laughter is quality time that will have a positive effect on any relationship. Over time, it can create a powerful bond that can’t be broken.