John Ernst, PhD, LPC

Talks About…



The pandemic. World conflict. Mass shootings. Internet scams. Politics. Natural disasters. Watching the news on TV hasn’t been a very pleasant experience lately. Not to mention the overdue bills, the ‘D’ that little Jimmy just got in math, and the argument that you had with your significant other last night. Is it possible that all of the above events have had a negative effect on your mood in a way that’s so subtle you didn’t even recognize it?

Although you’re not depressed by any means, does it seem like you’re spending a lot of time dodging life’s bullets and simply enduring the adversity? Can’t remember the last time you had a good laugh? Sounds like it’s time to go on a ‘search and rescue’ mission for your sense of humor.

How are you looking at life?

Consider the way you’ve been looking at life lately. Busy day-to-day routines can cause people to primarily focus on necessary tasks, leaving little time for things that don’t have specific purposes. This sometimes allows very little room for humor and laughter. But each day we all have the capacity and opportunity to add some degree of humor to our lives. Why do people watch comedy shows on TV? The simple answer is that they make them feel good. Experiencing humor is necessary for good mental health, and it can certainly add to the enjoyment of living.

How to revive your sense of humor:

So, why not revive your dormant sense of humor? Begin by avoiding the negative thought patterns that you may have slipped into and practice looking for the positive (it’s the old glass half-empty versus half-full analogy). Then, take yourself and your life a little less seriously. However, that doesn’t mean not caring. Actually, you’ll be caring more about the quality of your life. Real enjoyment of life stems from a positive attitude, and that, in turn, is the ‘pilot light’ that can ignite humor and laughter when the appropriate situations arise. Once activated, your positive attitude will act like radar that alerts you to opportunities to think or say something humorous.

A few tips about exercising your sense of humor:

  • Actively look for humor or irony in everyday situations.
  • Associate with people who have a positive outlook on life; observe them and learn from their example.
  • Watch a humorous movie or go to a comedy club.
  • When talking with a friend, recall a funny story from the past.
  • Remember that humor is subjective – what ‘cracks up’ one person may not have the same effect on another.
  • Laugh (or at least chuckle) out loud when you’re alone.
  • Replace negative, critical self-talk with positive, humorous thoughts.
  • Laugh at the little things that typically annoy you; after all, they are little things.
  • Avoid the ‘dark side’ of humor that offends, belittles, or is too sarcastic.
  • Try working some humor into a compliment. It’s certainly possible to say something to someone that’s both funny and positive at the same time.

A sense of humor – don’t leave home without it! Laughter is not only good for you, it’s contagious. But don’t wait for others to infect you – be a carrier!


Copyright 2021 – John Ernst, Ph.D., LPC


John Ernst, PhD, LPC treats children, adolescents, families, individual adults and couples. He is presently accepting new patients. To establish an appointment, please contact Dr. Ernst at 414-329-7000 and ask for him specifically to discuss your initial questions.