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"You realize that I've never seen you laugh?"
"Stuti, your delivery of humor is so good."

These were statements told to me in the span of two years. From exhibiting symptoms of derealization to being the one asked to provide jokes when I walk into work, I have had to learn what it means to have a sense of humor.

I read a compelling question the other day: do we tell jokes to make people laugh or so they think we are funny? We share laughter for both reasons: we want to be the person who people want to be around, and we know that laughter is something we are all drawn to.

Here's what I have learned about how to be funny--something most people assume comes naturally, but I believe the funniest people are the way they are because they were forced to find humor in life. Anxiety and depression sit close, always perched on my shoulders. It's encouraging to hear both that I have brightened someone's day in a relevant way and that my soul is not cramped up in a dark, small space.

1. Make stupid jokes.

It's the exact same principle of creativity. Get it all out, the corny jokes and the weird ones, and the good ones will float to the top.

2. Don't take yourself so seriously. 

This was my main problem. I constantly turned over the thoughts focused on what was wrong in my life in my mind, and I took everything in reference to that, in reference to me and my sadness. The realization that people were not doing this, that people just took me for what I was there, was strangely as liberating as being able to be honest about my depression. It made me feel that it was okay to blunder, and that helped me see humor in situations.

3. Write down the things that make you laugh: jokes, eavesdropped conversations, and scenarios.

When I went hiking this week, there was a couple making their way from a canyon, under a canopy of sunlight and over a carpet of fall leaves, laughing and chatting. Watching from a bridge that I crossed, these two older guys retorted, "Should we start singing 'Love Is In The Air'?" I had to write that memory down, maybe to use in a book, or maybe to just remember it to laugh, to remind myself that having a sense of humor is possible because humor, well, exists.

4. Watch TV shows and comedians. 

Psych helped me loosen up my humorous side, as well as Parks and Recreation. These people are paid to do their job: study them like studying experts in fields.

The most important part of having a sense of humor, I have learned, is don't spend time and energy worrying whether or not you're funny. Because, sure, we all want to be around a funny person, but we also want to be around a kind person, a person who listens, a talented person, a creative person. Having a sense of humor is  for you to learn how to laugh despite all the things that life deals you, but people want to be around you for so many more other reasons. That freedom helps you realize that it's not to scary to laugh at things now and then.

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