"Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”
Researchers have theorized that a sense of humor is made up of six basic variables:
A sense of humor, then, can mean either being funny or enjoying funny things.
Humor can be positive, when it’s not intended to belittle or harm others, or when one laughs at one’s own circumstances. It can also be negative, when it attacks others or when one belittles oneself.
Positive humor is associated with self-esteem, optimism, and life satisfaction, and with decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress. Negative humor follows the exact opposite pattern: While it can feel good in the moment, it exacerbates unhappiness.
Researchers studying humor in the face of tragedy have found that jokes can indeed help people cope with grievances and loss. However, the joke can’t be too close to or too far from the event in time.
Tell a joke during a horrific natural disaster and you will be shunned; tell one about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and most people won’t know what you are talking about. But get it right, and you can provide tremendous relief.
Only 10 to15 percent of laughing is due to anything even remotely humorous. Much of the rest is meant to display emotions such as agreement or simple conviviality.
Laughter itself is what brings a lot of humor’s benefits, not necessarily making other people laugh. Laughter also acts as a social lubricant, making interactions easier even when there is no humor involved.
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