Motivational Humor—How Jokes Can Get You Through The Day

Updated April 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Charlie Chaplin once said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close up, but a comedy in long-shot.” While we all experience concerns that are very real—and sometimes warrant talking to a therapist about—other concerns seem humorous in hindsight. Whether it’s an argument you had over something trivial or something you were embarrassed about that ended up being irrelevant, there are ways to find the humorous in everyday life. 

Taking things seriously does have its benefits in certain contexts, but it can be unsustainable in the long run. A day spent navigating the trenches of adult life without a hint of levity can feel like an uphill battle. For many people, the way to manage that is just to put their heads down and deal with it, but that’s not always the healthiest or most efficient way to approach life. Below, we’ll look at how humor isn’t just a way to kill time and take your mind off serious topics. It can also serve as a vital mental tool for motivating yourself and getting through the day with your happiness intact.

Are Things Starting To Feel A Bit Too Serious?

Humor Therapy Is A Real Thing

Humor’s impact on our happiness can be so profound that there are fields of therapy dedicated to using it to improve people’s everyday lives. One 2010 study on humor therapy in senior citizens with chronic pain, carried out over the course of eight weeks, found an over 40% increase in happiness when compared to a control group. The recipients of the therapy reported not only increased happiness but also a decrease in their pain, which demonstrates that regularly engaging with humor can yield physical benefits, too.

However, “humor therapy” as a focused practice isn’t always necessary to get results. Simply finding time in your day to engage with the humorous aspects of life can be a great way to start building a more positive psychology and an overall better sense of well-being.

According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that laughter has a number of physiological and mental benefits. In the short term, laughter can reduce stress, stimulate various organs, and relax your muscles. It also offers long-term benefits, including relieving pain, boosting your immune system, and enhancing your mood.

Humor Practices For Daily Use

One of the purposes of using humor for daily motivation is to remind ourselves that, in the grand scheme of things, the problems in front of us may not be as bad as we think. Taking a humorous point of view on a matter can provide a fresh perspective. Below are a few ways to keep the funny flowing throughout the day:

  • Remember that humor can serve as a great form of distraction: Most of us have looked up a funny cat video on YouTube for a way to procrastinate or cheer ourselves up. As silly as it may seem, that can be an effective strategy for staying motivated through the day. You might try to have funny videos, GIFs, or other comedic distractions on hand to help get you through a rough patch in your day.

Sometimes, even just knowing that you have something close by that will cheer you up can make your day feel more bearable. Those few refreshing moments of humor can make the tasks at hand seem not quite so burdensome.

  • Find an excuse to laugh: According to Northwestern Medicine, just the act of laughing has been proven to relieve stress hormones in your body. So, you might try to find a good reason to laugh. Spending time with the people you find funny can give you plenty of natural opportunities to share a laugh. 

  • Make others laugh: This strategy involves putting yourself out there a bit more, but it can be just as rewarding—if not more so—than laughing at someone else’s jokes. If you’re going into work and aren’t sure how you’re going to make it through the day, try to think of something funny you might tell a colleague or friend when you find some downtime. It could be something from last weekend or just something odd you overheard the other day. 

Can A Therapist Help You Find The Funny Side Of Things?

So much of therapy is about finding techniques to recontextualize thoughts and feelings, and finding the humorous in life is one method to go about that. Humor can be an important tool for discussing difficult topics that might otherwise seem unapproachable, even though not every therapist (or every client) will take that approach. Still, if you’re looking for a therapist who has a sense of humor, looking online may be a great place to start. Even if you can’t find someone who’s a good fit for you in your community, the rise of online therapy allows you to choose from online therapists all over the world. Online therapy has been demonstrated to be just as effective as in-person therapy for people living with anxiety and depression

Are Things Starting To Feel A Bit Too Serious?


Humor can be an effective tool for taking some stress out of the day. Laughter has been proven to have both psychological and physical benefits, so it can be useful to try to find the funny side of everyday life events. While humor can make a big difference in life, there are times when it can also help to talk to a professional therapist. If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or some other mental health concern, you don’t have to face it alone. Take the first step and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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