Wisdom for a Happy Life: 10 Reasons to Laugh Freely & Often

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by Anthony Lee

laughterLaughter is the best medicine. It may be a cliché, but there’s a reason that this old saying is still used often today: it’s a true statement.

It’s true in a metaphorical sense, because it makes us feel better the same way taking medicine does. But in recent years, there is mounting data suggesting that the saying is true in a literal sense. Sources such as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic have cited the following health benefits of laughter: improved blood flow, enhanced oxygen uptake by organs, release of endorphins for relaxation and pain relief, a stronger immune system, control of blood sugar, and ease of muscle tension.

Even though the research into the positive effects of laughter is not definitive, many people consider laughter to be a great source of happiness, me included. Recently, I began to think about all the things that could possibly make us laugh. Then I wondered, having been a biology major in college, if there is a classification system for humor, or at least a complete list of humor categories.

In my search for an answer, I found this interesting source: an online version of the book Humor Reference Guide: A Comprehensive Classification and Analysis by Warren Shibles. Chapter 7 of this book goes into detailed analysis of the many different types of humor. Even with such a long list, the book’s fourth chapter reminds us that “the types of humor are like breeds of dog – but in all of them there is still a dog.”

With that, I’d like to share with you 10 types of humor that I myself love, complete with examples. I hope this inspires you to discover what makes you laugh regularly so that you can stay happy for life.


1. Humor of puns, the cleverness of plays on words and their meanings or sounds

Example: Content at the website Pun of the Day 


2. Ironic humor, where something is expected but the opposite happens

Example: A classic television commercial involving a radio contest, a peanut butter sandwich, and an empty milk carton


3. Deviation humor, pertaining to things that are out of the ordinary

Example: The White House having to respond to petitions by Americans that garner enough signatures, even absurd petitions like one calling for construction of the Death Star from Star Wars 


4. Accidental humor, stemming from making unexpected (but non-harmful) mistakes

Example: Television bloopers 


5. Exaggerated humor, presenting something in an outrageous and farfetched manner

Example: The famous scene from the movie Dr. Strangelove with a cowboy riding a falling atomic bomb 


6. Self-deprecation humor, where people humorously point out their own flaws and unfortunate circumstances, which in turn leads to self-acceptance

Example: U.S. President Barack Obama making fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Dinner, including a bit with funny hair 


7. Analogy humor, the funny comparison of two things through simile and metaphor

Example: Political cartoons, many of which can be found at The Cagle Post


8. Surprise humor, which entails expecting one thing but being presented with something else so suddenly that emotions cannot keep up

Example: A well-known joke about two hunters, determined in 2002 to be the funniest joke in the world 


9. Stereotype humor, which cleverly highlights known characteristics of certain people (which is fine as long as the subjects of the joke can also appreciate the humor)

Example: Light bulb jokes 


10. Humor of ambiguity, in which mistakes and confusion ensue from multiple meanings clashing with one another

Example: Abbott and Costello’s hilarious classic sketch “Who’s on First?” 


About Anthony

anthonyleeAnthony Lee is a prolific writer (medical by day, creative by night), an avid book reader, and an insightful philosopher. He joined the Delivering Happiness movement in late 2011 after reading Tony Hseih’s book of the same name, sharing it with his book club, and adopting a newfound optimistic perspective on life. He spends his time thinking of ways to improve the world and keeping people inspired. Follow him on Facebook (AnthonyLeePhilosopher) and Twitter (AntPhilosopher).

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