On a particularly frustrating day a few weeks ago, instead of calling upon an extra kickboxing session or a glass of wine, I found myself reaching out to two of my closest friends instead. "Rough day," I quickly tapped out in a message. "I need something to cheer me up."
My inbox was soon flooded with hilarious statements, GIFs and all around tomfoolery. Within minutes I found myself feeling more light-hearted than I had felt all day -- and all because of their innate ability to know exactly how to make me laugh.
Chances are, I'm not alone: We all have that one person in our lives who, no matter the circumstances, can put a smile on our otherwise scrunched face. Humor is a coveted trait; we're almost naturally wired to look for it. One small study suggests that we have the capacity to understand humor in our first year of life.
But while we all may have the capabilities for the funny trait, it takes a special kind of person to make an entire group erupt into a fit of laughter. Here are six signs you've got an amazing sense of humor:
You make laughing a priority.
As the old saying goes, "life's better when you're laughing" -- and no one knows that more than good-humored individuals. Those who have a good sense of humor not only see the value in making others laugh, but they prioritize laughter themselves. And as a result, they're healthier and happier for it: Studies show that smiling instantly boosts your mood and laughing can soothe tension and melt stress.
You practice self-acceptance.
Not all of us can be like Jennifer Lawrence (although we wish) -- a person who is so open to their faults they publicly make fun of their pitfalls -- but people with a light-hearted attitude do practice more self-acceptance than most. Good-humored individuals embrace their flaws and laugh them off (and let them go) in a healthy way. And it's something others should work toward: Self-acceptance is a key to a happier life, but it's not always practiced all that often.
It takes a lot of mental energy to come up with quick-witted quips that keep grins on others' faces. Those who have a good sense of humor tend to be more creative. And that's not the only cognitive benefit: One 2014 study found that laughter can also lead to a sharper short-term memory.
There's a line between well-intentioned humor and mean-spirited jokes, and those with good humor know the difference. "Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else's expense. And I find that that's just a form of bullying in a major way," comedian Ellen DeGeneres told CBS News in 2012. "So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else's feelings."
You have good physical well-being.
Laughter truly is the best medicine -- and people who have a good sense of humor use it to their advantage. Those giggles can stimulate the organs, improve your immune system and relieve pain.
Overall, humor can benefit us physically and emotionally, according to Peter McGraw, Ph.D., an associate professor at University of Colorado Boulder who studies emotions. "[W]hen done well, humor can have a significant positive effect on your life," he wrote for Psychology Today. "By developing a better understanding of humor we believe we can then suggest ways that people can live better lives -- from helping them cope with pain and stress to encouraging people to use humor to criticize brands that have done them wrong."
Aging is just a fact of life to you.
While most people fret with each passing birthday, good-humored individuals take it all in stride. Those "over the hill" cards? The jokes about looking older? Child's play -- and that light-hearted attitude may help you live longer. Research suggests that a sense of humor increases longevity into retirement. Bring it on, birthdays.
How do you keep a good sense of humor? Let us know your tips in the comments!
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.