Motivational Humor—How Jokes Can Get You Through The Day

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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 may also offer long-term benefits, including relieving pain, boosting your immune system, and enhancing your mood. In addition to providing physical and mental health benefits, humor may serve as motivation throughout the day.

While we all experience concerns that are very real, other concerns sometimes 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, and these moments may boost your motivation during an average day.

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 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 study published in the Journal of Aging Research explored humor therapy for senior citizens with chronic pain. The study was carried out over the course of eight weeks and found a 40% increase in happiness among participants when compared to a control group. The recipients of the therapy reported not only increased happiness but also a decrease in their pain, which suggests that regularly engaging with humor may 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 an effective way to start building a more positive psychology and an overall better sense of well-being.

Practices for daily use

To use humor for daily motivation, it may help to remind ourselves that some of the problems we face may not be as bad as we think. This isn’t to say that people’s problems aren’t real. Some people experience mental health challenges that require the care of a physician or mental health professional. However, for lesser problems, taking a humorous point of view may provide a fresh perspective. Below are a few ways to keep the funny flowing throughout the day:

Use humor as a distraction

Humor can sometimes serve as a form of distraction. For example, some people choose to distract themselves with a funny cat video on YouTube to cheer themselves up. As silly as it may seem, that can be a useful distraction during a rough patch during your day. You might try to have funny videos, GIFs, or other comedic distractions on hand to distract yourself once or twice during an average day. 

Research shows that the act of laughing reduces the effect of stress hormones in your body. For this reason, you might try to find opportunities to laugh. In addition to using technology to find humor, you might try to spend time with the people you find funny. 

Sometimes, even just knowing that you have someone or 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. After a brief distraction, you may find it easier to get back to your tasks, and you might even be more productive.

Find an excuse to laugh

In addition to seeking out humor from others, you may benefit from making other people laugh. This strategy involves putting yourself out there a bit more, but it may be just as rewarding—if not more so—than laughing at someone else’s jokes. If you’re going to work and aren’t sure how you’re going to make it through a busy day, it may help 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.

You may find that making others laugh leads them to share humorous situations with you, which can lead to a more enjoyable, mutually beneficial work environment.

Beyond humor: Finding help for life’s challenges

While humor can sometimes help during stressful times, some challenges may require professional support. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, you don’t have to face it alone. There are licensed therapists available with experience in your areas of concern. If you’re not feeling well enough to see a therapist in the office, you might consider online therapy, which many studies have demonstrated to be effective for a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. 

Online therapy allows you to choose from online therapists all over the country. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can talk to a therapist via phone, live chat, or videoconferencing at a time that works for you. 

Are things starting to feel a bit too serious?


Humor can sometimes 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. However, while humor can make a significant difference in some situations, there are times when it may help to talk to a licensed therapist. If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or some other mental health concern, you don’t have to face it alone. With online therapy, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has experience in your specific areas of concern. Take the first step toward getting support and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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