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Developing your sense of humor: Take yourself less seriously

One essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not.

Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:

  • Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
  • Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
  • Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in
    your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
  • Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
  • Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
  • Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

Checklist for lightening up

When you find yourself taken over by what seems to be a horrible problem, ask these questions:

  • Is it that bad?
  • Is the situation irreparable?
  • Is it really your problem?
  • Is it really worth getting upset over?
  • Is it worth upsetting others?
  • Is it that important?