Six Tips to Help You Develop a Sense of Humor

Having a sense of humor allows you to lighten up certain events that would otherwise be far too serious Here, we show you how you can develop and train this character strength.
Six Tips to Help You Develop a Sense of Humor

Last update: 19 December, 2021

Sense of humor is extremely individualistic. For example, what one person finds funny another may not even understand or they might consider it to be in bad taste. However, the ability to take life lightly and find the funny side of every situation is beneficial in many ways. Therefore, in this article, we want to show you how you can develop a sense of humor.

A sense of humor is a quality that can be worked on and enhanced. Nevertheless, while some people naturally possess a sense of humor, others find it a quality that’s rather hard to adopt.

In this sense, the environment in which you grew up tends to play a fundamental role. For instance, an excess of criticism, ridicule, or perfectionism may have led you to be too serious and over-sensitive. However, even if this is the case, you can reverse the situation and benefit from a developed sense of humor.

Why should you develop a sense of humor?

Traditionally, psychology has focused on identifying and treating disorders, deficiencies, and limitations of character. However, more recently, positive psychology has demonstrated how, by enhancing certain personal strengths, you can significantly improve your quality of life. Martin Seligman, one of the main proponents of this branch of psychology claims that a  sense of humor is one of the most important in this regard.

Although there’s no single definition of a sense of humor, we can describe it as a tendency to experience positive states of fun, joy, and lightheartedness and express them through laughter. It’s an attitude toward reality in which the pleasant, friendly, and funny side is sought. In fact, where you actively seek experiences of joy and happiness.

A developed sense of humor allows you to better cope with adversity, enjoy more rewarding relationships, and achieve greater life satisfaction. Furthermore, it has an important influence on the state of your health.

Various studies have found that a sense of humor helps reduce tension and stress and promotes the release of endorphins. Therefore, it protects your physical and mental health, prevents diseases, and helps you recover from them.

Joking man

Six keys to developing a sense of humor

You can use the following guidelines to help you develop a sense of humor. Be sure to be persistent and apply them regularly. In this way, by repeating them, you’ll achieve your goal.

1. Find reasons to smile

A sense of humor is an attitude. Indeed, it’s not so much related to what happens as to the way you decide to look at it.

Therefore, instead of being absorbed in your thoughts and worries, start living in the present and discover some reasons to smile. For instance, a friendly baby that you pass by on the street, a dog running through the park, an elderly couple walking hand in hand… any little everyday detail can make you smile if you’re open to it.

2. Enhance laughter

Laughing is one of the healthiest yet least practiced activities. For this reason, it’s extremely beneficial to look for ways to actively promote laughter.

Look for a comedy series on TV, go to comedy shows, read the comic strips in the newspapers, or follow funny accounts on social media. Indeed, any option is worth considering as long as it makes you laugh. However, if you’re looking for a more complete experience, you could sign up for a laughter therapy workshop.

3. Take perspective of situations

Do you often find that certain previous situations that were extremely humiliating and embarrassing to you at the time now make you laugh when you look back on them?  If so, it’s because, as time goes by, you’re able to take a more balanced view.

If you try and distance yourself from the negative events that happen to you, you might even find a certain irony in them. For example, having your coat ripped on the coldest day of the year might be extremely frustrating but, when you put it into perspective, it’s actually quite funny.

4. Relativize

Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you, leading you to magnify and dramatize events that really aren’t that important at all.

A good exercise in this regard is to relativize. For example, think about the future implications of the event that’s just happened. If, in ten days or ten months, this situation will be nothing more than a story for you to tell, why not take it lightly?

5. Learn to laugh at yourself

This is an extremely complicated action for many people, especially for those who suffered teasing or humiliation during their early years. However, learning to laugh at yourself improves your self-esteem and makes you strong in the face of criticism.

If it’s too difficult for you to do right now, you can start by reliving embarrassing situations from your past and analyzing them now from a new perspective, recognizing how ridiculous or surreal they were.

Woman laughing, showing it's important to develop a sense of humor.

6. Make others laugh

Finally, social relationships are the best scenario for developing a sense of humor. Jokes and funny anecdotes  can help you improve this skill while also making your interpersonal interactions more enjoyable and fun.

Perhaps, at first, you might fear making a fool of yourself. Furthermore, sometimes you might not receive the feedback you hoped for. However, don’t let this discourage you. Remember, it’s a long-distance race.

In short, cultivating a sense of humor is a simple and effective way of improving your physical health, your mood, and your social success. Therefore, try and work on this strength every day. You’ll soon notice the changes.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Toledo, M., & Aparicio, V. G. (2010). El humor desde la psicología positiva. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology1(1), 111-117.
  • Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & Blissett, S. E. (1988). Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between stressful events and psychological distress: A prospective analysis. Journal of Personality and social Psychology54(3), 520.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.