Advice Needed (I Think I Lost my Sense of Humor)

I was watching a movie yesterday that I’ve watched many times in the past and that typically makes me laugh out loud pretty much every time I watch it. I think I laughed once. I didn’t find it that funny. And I stopped and realized I don’t really remember finding much of anything funny in the past few years.

I think somehow in all the epic emotional drama of my life I lost my ability to have fun and just enjoy life. Except with my students because if you can’t laugh when you teach high school students then you’re too far gone to be saved.

So, I need some advice, silly and serious. How do I find my sense of fun again? All suggestions will be seriously considered, and I’ll come and report on the results of any advice I decide to follow!


  1. I felt like that about a year and a half ago, and I wrote a post on my blog about it. I think the best advice is to fake it until you make it. My friends practically had to drag me out of the apartment to have fun and laugh, but once I got back into the swing of things, it came back to me. (I’m not exactly the life of the party even now, but I laugh a lot and have fun.)

  2. I know that feeling, and I also know how cleansing it can feel to have a really good laugh (it’s like a good cry, but way more fun). I think the last really good laugh I had was while I was watching some Mr. Bean.
    I personally find that trying to make someone else laugh helps loosen up my muscles.

  3. I can relate.

    I’ll be watching this thread for advice for myself. I am trying to let myself enjoy little moments of humor more, but that’s all I have to offer.

    As I think about it, for me, a lot comes from being in a place where much of my energy is spent sorting and pondering the stuff of life. I don’t disengage enough from that, I think.

  4. Those funks stink. All I can say is hang around happy, vibrant people. People who are in a good place and enjoying life, and can make you laugh!!! It works for me. Best wishes!

  5. I recommend going to the library and looking for a big anthology of humorous writing.

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt to pray about it.

  6. Seraphine, not to be a creeper, but I’ve been following your story on this blog for awhile. I don’t know that I have much to offer in terms of advice or encouragement regarding faith and the like, as I feel like it is all a huge question mark for me right now. But laughter is something I love and that I find refreshes my soul.

    One night I was feeling somewhat bummed out, went for a walk, and came across this playground. The moon was just below the treeline, and the slide and monkey bars cast eerie shadows. I stumbled over to the swing and sat down. The first time I had done so in years, I realized. I began to swing up and down like I did when I was a little girl. Higher and higher, the moon appearing for a brief moment at the top of each swing. As I approached the capacity of the swing set, the feeling of acceleration filled my stomach with that half nauseated, half pleasurable feeling – suddenly laughter, loud, uninvited, joyful laughter, came crawling up out of my throat and skipping across the darkened sand and grass. Like some sort of crazy maniac, I found myself swinging in the nighttime by myself, playing with the child inside who had been forgotten.

  7. I think you’re not getting enough sleep.

    I don’t think you’re a lost cause. What movie could be funny after so many viewings. Part of humor is the novelty, the surprise the freshness.

    You still see that in you students.

    Also visit That made me laugh yesterday.

  8. Dan no. 4, I’ve been to Great Wolf a couple of times. You’re right, it’s great fun.

    Seraphine, I don’t have any great advice, but I hope you get your humor mojo back. Life without laughing isn’t fully living.

  9. I know that feeling. I took some little kids to the zoo today. Watching them watch sea lions swim from an underwater viewpoint was pretty good medicine.

    Good luck.

  10. Steve’s link did the trick for me, but I’m easy.

    To have a good laugh, I think what you need are real life people that you are likely to laugh with and you need to have them over late at night. Siblings or old friends are usually the best. Get together and either talk about the good ole’ days telling stories about the crazy stuff you did when you were young and stupid or, as a last resort, you could watch a funny movie with them. The company makes all the difference.

  11. Jacob, you took the words right out of my mouth. Serpahine, I don’t know you that well in real life, but I do know you and Lynnette are close friends. I know I have some of the best, hardest, most prolonged intestine busting laughs when she or one of my other sisters visits. Particularly, as Jacob suggests, when we stay up a little too late at night playing games or watching random movies and one of us (okay, typically me) tries to tell 675 variations of the same joke. From what I know of your family, it sounds like you all similarly have a good time together, so time with silly siblings might be helpful. Or visiting Lynnette. I’m sorry–I know it’s difficult to travel in the middle of the semester so this might not be helpful right now, but that’s my vote.

    Also, you’ve probably already thought of this, but there’s a fair amount of funny writing right here in our lovely Bloggernacle. If you haven’t read BCC’s Police Beat Roundtables recently, for example, you might give their archives a shot.

  12. #16, the BCC’s Police Beat Roundtables on occasion send water shooting out my nose on occasion. Joss Whedon on occasion. Glee. I think part of it is just letting yourself laugh, even if it is dumb.

    I was thinking about HS speech recently, and some of the bad Original Comedies I had to sit through (IL has a lot of different events). The bad ones still make me snicker. There is something to be said for pity laughter.

    Lately, I’ve enjoyed the first two seasons of the Big Bang Theory, and it has tickled me no end (can you tell that I watch TV when I need to unwind?).

    Experiencing laughter–just as an exercise relieves stress. There are laughter Yoga classes where forced laughter leads to genuine laughter. It is a little Mary Poppins on the ceiling, but still fun.

  13. Good thought, Ziff. Your sisters are hilarious and totally crack me up, too. They’re always smiling and laughing, which I find completely endearing. Sounds like there needs to be a ZD intervention.

  14. Keri, I think you’re right that I’m going to have to be proactive, even if that involves faking it for a bit. I also think I’m going to do one thing a day that I think might make me laugh (hence the request for advice/suggestions).

    Starfoxy, laughing can be very cleansing, though I’m kind of bad at getting other people to laugh–I’m not really a funny person (except when people are laughing at me being clueless, awkward, etc.).

    m&m, your dilemma sounds similar to mine–I also think part of my problem is that I’ve spent so much time trying to sort through my serious problems that I haven’t taken enough time to disengage and just be silly.

  15. Dan, thanks for the suggestion, though the nearest one is 3 hours away, so I think that plan might have to be set aside until an upcoming vacation.

    Jen G, where do you find happy, vibrant people who wouldn’t mind hanging out with an anxious depressive who is a bit too earnest and serious? 🙂

    Michaela, I’m probably more likely to look around on the internet, but good suggestion. And I hadn’t really thought to pray about it. God and I are on uncertain terms right now, but it might be a good thing for me to discuss with Him.

  16. Steve, haha. Unfortunately, my anxiety about violating social norms would dominate any enjoyment I felt from throwing water balloons at people.

    newt, thank-you for sharing that experience (and for your kind thoughts). I think I need more moments like that.

    Johnna, if you knew how much time I’ve spent sleeping the past few months, you wouldn’t say that. 🙂 But thanks for the encouraging words–I’m also inclined to believe I’m not a lost cause.

  17. Kevin, thanks.

    John C., my couch is in the middle of my room, so I don’t think that’s it. But maybe behind the bed or refrigerator.

    ESO, kids are great. I have a good friend in town who has kids (I use them as my surrogate nephews, since my newphews are all far away), and I haven’t been over there in awhile–maybe it’s time for another visit this week.

  18. Jacob J and Ziff, I think your suggestion is perfect, but as Ziff pointed out, my family and closest friends are all far away. And it’s harder to laugh and be silly over the phone than when you’re in the same place.

    Ziff and tkangaroo, I haven’t read many of the Police Beat roundtables, though Ziff, I did really enjoy your compilation of funny comments in the bloggernacle. And I’m just remembering some videos on youtube I watched a few months ago that got me laughing. Here’s a link to one of my favorites:

    tkangaroo, if you have any other funny TV suggestions (that I could rent from netflix), let me know!

  19. P. G. Wodehouse. That is all. (Hint–look for “Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend.”) Terry Pratchett is a close second. That is also all.

  20. djinn, Terry Pratchett has on my to-read list for months now–maybe it’s time to move him to the top. And I’ll definitely check out P. G. Wodehouse. Thanks!

  21. I think it takes practice just like anything else. If you devote time to it, you’ll remember how those muscles work.

    Staying up too late helps too. I always say, If you wanna see what a Mormon’s like drunk, just keep them up past ten.

    I’m a massive comedy nerd. Google Jim Gaffigan, Mitch Hedberg, Brian Regan, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt. I also listen to a bunch of comedy podcasts as I’m working, like Jordan Jesse Go or Never Not Funny. And for reading I like David Sedaris best.

    And hey, I’m a funny vibrant person! You’re welcome to visit and I’ll be relentlessly charming.

  22. Seraphine – as someone who is laughing an awful lot lately, in spite of the fact that I’m also hurting an awful lot lately, I have no advice whatsoever. Maybe this, just about every worthwhile thing in my life – the ability to laugh, cry, receive revelation, find beauty, appreciate other people, everything – is heightened when I am living truthfully. As in, telling myself and others and God the truth, as best as I’m truthfully able to see it. (That last qualification means quite a bit of silence – in fact, if there is one thing I’d add more of to my repertoire, it is silence.)

    May I suggest that the reason you’re not laughing at your old fave movie might be that it isn’t funny and that you can now see it isn’t all that funny.

    Good luck, 🙂 ~

  23. Reese, you’re right that it does take practice–I think one reason I’m struggling with laughing is because I haven’t kept this skill up for the past few years.

    And I would love to visit you! Unfortunately, school responsibilities make it difficult to leave town during the school year. And school also makes it difficult to stay up late. That 6:00 alarm comes pretty early. 🙂

    TStevens, those are both very wrong.

    Kevin, thanks! I remembered yesterday that Sarah Haskins makes me laugh quite a lot, so I watched a few of her clips (and decided to post one). I’m going to try and get myself to laugh out loud at least once every day. I’m still working on today…

  24. delayedentryrocket, I don’t think that alcohol and I would be a good combination. I have intense reactions to things like sugar, and I think any mood-altering substance that is stronger would probably not make me laugh. 🙂

    Thomas, interesting–I’m not sure that truth necessarily enables laughter for me. “What states of being enable laughter?” is a good question–I think when I’m feeling more comfortable with myself and more emotionally connected to my life, humor is easier.

  25. Seraphine,

    I thought of something else. When I was a kid, I loved Disneyland. Also as a young adult. Then, for a while, I couldn’t enjoy Disneyland. Then the thought came to me ‘this enjoyment does not want to be sought.’ I discovered I was thinking so much about whether or not I was enjoying Disneyland that the experience itself was lost to me. After that, I stopped thinking about whether or not I was going to enjoy Disneyland, and I just went to Disneyland.

    In short, don’t sweat it. Maybe it’s just not a very funny time for you. *laugh* ~

  26. Time to play with some food. Milk bubble blowing, hiding mentos in diet coke, slime creation with starch . . . it’s a good way to play with life.

  27. Just the other day my husband commented to me that he had noticed my sense of humour returning. The change? We have left the church. Now I don’t want to suggest that everyone try this, I just thought it was worth mentioning. My laughter has been set freeeee!

    I noticed it too when I finally found myself laughing during an episode of ‘The Office’, now I can’t get enough of the show 😀

  28. That’s tough, Seraphine.

    I think it’s natural to stop laughing and smiling when you’re wounded. Most people don’t tell jokes in the hospital ward. And even if they’re funny jokes, you don’t usually laugh if you’re bleeding on the floor.

    On the other hand, healthy people do laugh once they’re out of the emergency room. Only you can tell whether you’re there yet. But if you are, then yes, you may want to knock the rust off of those laughing muscles.

    Start by just smiling, maybe. It’s not particularly funny, but this video is one that should make you smile: . 🙂

  29. I’m totally with ya Seraphine. I was wondering the other day to myself, when was the last time I laughed out loud. So in thinking about it, I realized it was in reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

    I also decided that instead of looking at the exterior to find something funny when nothing at all seems funny to me right now– I’m going to just try to laugh at myself. I’m certain there’s plenty of material there so at least it might as well go to some good use.

    Good luck and keep us posted with your laugh diaries! I’d love to hear what makes anyone laugh as maybe it will actually strike a chord with me one day too. The water noodles were good.

  30. Thomas, you definitely have a point–I think that sometimes my overthinking gets in the way of my ability to just enjoy certain experiences.

    Christy, if I can figure out how to do those things without making a mess I would have to clean up, I’ll consider it. 🙂

    Maureen, I definitely think that if there are big stressors in one’s life, if you end up freed of them, that can help with the laughter. For me, I think the church is more of a boon than a stressor right now.

    Kaimi, one thing I’m actually thinking of starting with is laughing at the wounds. It’s really hard, but it can be immensely freeing. I still remember in college when I’d get together with my friends from an on-line depression group, we’d tell jokes/funny stories about psychiatric mediactions, suicide, etc., and they were funny because that was the reality of most of our lives. We all found that sometimes it’s just best to laugh at how much it all sucked.

    moksha, I have that book, but I haven’t read it yet. Maybe I’ll move it up my reading list. And I think laughing at oneself is key–I want to figure out how to do that more too.


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