The Laugh Factor
Sample Excerpt

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If you think you have no detectable sense of humor, it is possible to develop it. If you know you have one but feel it is "underdeveloped", you can exercise it and get that sense of humor back in shape.

To develop your sense of humor, it is important to go back to your past for clues. You must know your self when it comes to developing that sense of humor. Think back of your childhood and adolescence days. Answer these questions:

  • Did you find your parents funny?
  • Did they tell jokes or funny stories?
  • Did they teach you that it was okay to laugh at yourself? This does not mean putting yourself down in a negative way, but laughing at your own quirks and foibles.
  • Did they tease each other in gentle non-damaging ways?
  • Were you the class clown and did you always tell jokes?
  • Did you have funny teachers and friends?
  • What television shows did you like as a kid? If you were a kid in the fifties, you might have watched "I Love Lucy", "The Honeymooners", "Three's Company", and "All in the Family".
  • Did you enjoy political humor such as those employed by comics like Jon Stewart?
  • Have you ever been the only person in a movie theater that found a scene or dialogue funny? Maybe you see the humor that no one else does. Maybe it is the other way around and everyone is laughing except you?
  • What about your laughter, how does it sound? In the movie entitled "Mary Poppins", Dick Van Dyke and Ed Wynn discuss the different types of laughter through a song. Is it a silent snicker or rousing belly laugh? Do you snigger, chortle, giggle, cackle, hoot, or guffaw?
  • What kind of comic strips do you enjoy? "Dilbert" pokes fun at the office scenario, while "Hi & Lois" and "The Family Circus" deal with the humor in family life. "The Wizard of Id" is medieval humor, while "Cathy" deals with women's humor.

Knowing more about yourself will help you to develop a sense of humor and make you feel comfortable with your funny side.

As your body needs to be toned in order to stay in shape, so does the humor muscle. The more you exercise your sense of humor, the more you will have a sharper wit. This will take time but it is well worth the work. Most of us can be reasonably amusing when we are with friends and relatives, but there is always room for improvement.

Nurture your sense of humor and feed it with funny movies, songs, books, and television. Go to the humor section of your local bookstore and see the wonderful assortment of funny materials available. Start collecting amusing jokes that you can use to help lighten a moment. Just remember to keep it clean. Off-color jokes will not win friends and influence people. Try reading the amusing poetry of Ogden Nash. He found a way to laugh at the world around him. For example, he wrote:

I think that I shall never see

A poem as lovely as a tree.

Indeed, unless the billboards fall,

I will never see a tree at all.

To help develop your sense of humor, try reading humorous books. Dave Barry will have you rolling in the aisles from the first sentence of any of his many books. The same goes for anything that Erma Bombeck wrote. Check your local library for humorous literature and start finding the lighter side of life.

By surrounding yourself with amusing materials, finding the funny side of everyday life, and be funny, humor will soon become second nature. Create an environment of humor in your life. Take those problems that come your way and flip them to see the funny side. Give those troubles a little spin and learn to laugh at them. You will soon learn to handle those problems and reduce stress.

Another way of nurturing the funny side of your personality is to hang out with humorous, lighthearted, and fun-loving people. Spending too much time with overly serious folks is exhausting. The same goes for people who are highly negative about everything. If you will allow it, they will soon drag you down to their depressed level. Refuse to become depressed and sad. Just say no! Hanging out with fun-loving people will bring out your own fun-loving side. Remember that people like those who laugh a lot and obviously enjoy life. Be one of those folks.

You can laugh at yourself. It is also okay to laugh at situations. It does not make you look silly or foolish. When you can laugh at yourself, it shows that you are secure about who you are and what you want. It actually shows strength of character. Everyone makes mistakes and it is perfectly all right to laugh at yourself when you do. It shows other people that it is okay for them to make mistakes. It is not the end of the world.

In relationships, humor is extremely important and adds a completely new dimension. When couples are happy together, the relationship blossoms and it becomes rewarding to both parties.

Just remember that when you are adding humor to an occasion, it must be appropriate. Some people are offended when they hear raucous laughter in a funeral. This presents a lesson for us -- not to take life too seriously. After all, we will never get out of it alive.

What keeps most people from really loosening up and telling jokes is the fear that they will mess up the story. They are afraid that they might forget the punch line or tell the joke badly. A little rehearsal is in order if you are not used to telling jokes. Stand in front of a mirror and run through the story, bring out all parts of the joke, and give that punch line some punch. Rehearse that joke a couple of times. Try it out on close friends and observe their reactions, before you test it in a public venue. The next time you are in a party or out with friends or family, relax and run the joke through your mind before telling it aloud. Make sure you have not forgotten any important parts to the joke. Take a deep breath and just jump right in.

If no one laughs, it does not mean that you did not tell the joke properly. Perhaps you have found a group of folks that have a different sense of humor. They did not get the joke and you have to explain it. Of course, that ruins the entire joke. However, you should not feel bad about it. Comedians call that kind of group a "tough room." Try the joke on another group. The same joke could have the next group rolling in the aisles.

Develop your own unique sense of humor by learning to play. Yes, you read that correctly. You must learn to play, have fun, laugh, and act silly. Develop a sense of fun and humor will follow, just as night follows day.

Try visiting a toy store to see the vast array of ways to have fun. Find a toy you like or maybe one that you can remember from childhood. Buy it and recall the fun you used to have playing with it as a child.

The best way to learn how to have fun is to hang out with kids, grandkids, or nieces or nephews. Kids naturally know how to have fun. There is a big difference between being childish and being childlike. We will discuss more about kids and a sense of humor in the next chapter.

Develop your sense of humor and use it to your advantage. Use humor to create a happy conclusion for yourself.

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