Developing Your Sense of Humor

laughter in the office300By Joe Love —

Having a good sense of humor is one of the most important characteristic of all happy and successful people. A good sense of humor helps you to solve problems, improve your relationships, and have a positive outlook on virtually every aspect of your life.

Sense of humor is something people talk about but rarely understand in terms of what humor really is. It is often defined as having a different perspective on things. This way of looking at sense of humor is only partly correct. If you defined sense of humor as just having a different perspective, it would be like saying, “If you were just 6 feet tall, you’d understand this” and “If you just had a full head of hair, you’d be more comprehensive.

Changing your perspective means going back through your entire life and looking at all the belief systems and elements that went into making up your perspective. So it’s not a simple process. A sense of humor is a very particular developed sense of perspective that allows you to access joy even in adversity.

I’m not talking about going through life and laughing things off. Nor am I talking about the fact that you ignore a problem or don’t take it seriously. I am talking about first dealing with the problem and then putting a positive spin on it.

The idea is that a sense of perspective when it comes to humor allows you to see yourself in the scope of things rather than always at the center of things. Most of us have a tendency as to believe that any problem we are confronting and facing at particular moment is the most important thing that is going on in the world.

This way of looking at problems is a very heavy responsibility. It makes you feel as if the problem is everywhere and it becomes the focus of your being. This is why a developed sense of humor is so important, because it allows you to see yourself in the scope of things rather than always at the center of things.

When you look at things with a sense of humor perspective, it enables you to have a remarkable capacity to control how you see the things that are going on in your life. You cannot control the external events in your life, but you can control how you look at them.

An important part of a developed sense of humor is the capacity to take yourself lightly, even though you may take your work or your problem very seriously. A sense of joy in being alive is an intimate component of the human will to live. It’s not abstract, but it’s not easy either, you have to work at it.

One of the best ways to develop your sense of humor is to make a list of all things that make you happy, that put a smile on your face, or give you joy. Make of a list of the things you do or once did that you don’t have time for anymore, that nourish and sustain your sense of joy. List the things that enliven you and strengthen your spirit, so that when a problem occurs you’ve got a reason to combat it and have the flexibility to see it though to a successful conclusion.

The root form of humor is umar in Latin. It means to be fluid and flexible like water and that is what humor is about. It’s staying flexible so you don’t get broken by the difficulties you confront. Being flexible enables your creative mind to stay open so that you can still come up with solutions even in painful situations.

Making a list of the things that make you happy sounds simple, but it’s not. I’ve done it with thousands of people over the past ten years and what I’ve found is that most adults over the age of 35 cannot write down more than three things that give that make them happy. They will invariably start off with something such as, “my work, I love my work.”

You should never put work on your list, or anything that causes you or other people harm. Instead you should list things that make you happy and put a smile on your face. For example, you might want to list things like going to a movie, fishing, or kissing your spouse.

Don’t try to complete this list all in one sitting. You should spend at least four to six weeks completing it. I advise my clients to get a small diary or pocket folder and carry it with them. This way you can write down things as they come to mind or as you’re actually enjoying them. After six weeks time you should have over 100 things on you list that make you smile, laugh, or feel better.

This list is going to become a critical component in developing your sense of humor because it will help you deal more effectively with all those small things that are always chewing at you. If you have a big problem, you can handle it, you can see it, and get into it, but it’s all those little things that keep sneaking up behind you and nipping at your neck that having a good sense of humor helps you deal with.

Misery is not subtle. Pain is not subtle. Joy, humor, and laughter are very often subtle. So you have to pay attention to them to start activating them into your life and that’s what this list will help you to do.

Making a list of all the things that you enjoy and put a smile on your face will not only help develop your sense of humor but it also gives you the opportunity to find out more about the people in your life and what makes them happy and this will enable you to help them develop their sense of humor. When you are able to give other people joy and put a smile on their face, especially when they need it most, you will be giving them the greatest gift you can give.

Copyright©2006 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development.  Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many businesses around the world, on the subjects of leadership, achievement, goals, strategic business planning, and marketing.

Reach Joe at:  [mailto:joe@jlmandassociates.com]joe@jlmandassociates.com

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