How Your Sense of Humor Can Help You In and Out of the Ring

“My toughest fight was with my first wife.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

“It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

These humorous quotes are attributed to none other than Muhammad Ali, the American boxing legend. One of the reasons he became a boxing legend was that he had a great sense of humor, both inside and outside the ring.

Laughter is a powerful medicine that can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. This not only reduces pain, but also boosts your immunity. A sense of humor is one of the greatest tools to help you win big in life as it helps build resilience which helps you bounce back from both physical and emotional challenges.

Humor Relieves Anxiety

A sense of humor is a fantastic coping mechanism that helps relieve our anxiety. It is an incredibly positive trait that has a reinforcing cycle.

If you are able to see the funny side of an issue and laugh about it, it gives you a sense of happiness which make you view the situation in a more optimistic manner. This in turn helps you see even more positive things.

Death, sexual inadequacies, and mother-in-laws are popular topics for jokes as they are sources of anxiety. When an elderly person jokes often about deafness or dementia, it is usually an indication of his concern or fear of it. Jokes help us deal with these anxieties and problems.

The person joking may not even be aware of his anxiety over the issue. The anxiety may be more at a subconscious level. They joke because it makes them feel happier.

This is definitely some serious food for for thought. If we take a moment to think about the jokes we crack, we may be able to identify some of our own subconscious insecurities. You can also consider a known subject of anxiety for you and see if you joke about it in any manner.

Humor can be Motivating

Humor increases our resilience. It helps us see everything from a different perspective.  Happy and successful people rarely get stuck at seeing just one angle of a situation. They explore it from different angles. This is the basis of cognitive behavioural therapy which is used successfully for treating depression.

Being able to view things differently in a positive and different light can help relieve stress and depression. It can motivate you to continue on your path to reach your goals with renewed vigour.

Build Resilience with Humor

What makes some people crack and crumble after a trauma while others bounce back with relative ease?

People with high resilience can adapt to changed circumstances quickly as they are more flexible. These people can’t be kept down, they bounce right back because they not only expect it, they are confident they will make it. They create their own good luck where others might see only the bad luck.

Some people are born with a more resilient nature than others, but this is a trait that can be cultivated. Such people are proficient at seeing things from other people’s view point.

For us to become more resilient, we need to change how we view adversity. The way we view negative events in life affects our health in the long term. How we view these unlucky or negative circumstances in life – as permanent versus temporary and unchangeable versus subject to influence – is a decisive factor in how quickly we are able to overcome the adverse situation. Creating a  growth mindset will also boost your health.

One of the best ways to build resilience is to build up your sense of humor. Laughing in the face of adversity can provide great relief for both the body and soul. Playful humor can bring down tensions to much lower levels. Choosing to see the humor and playing with the situation is incredibly empowering. This gives you a sense of control over the situation.

In 2004, Victoria Ruvolo was severely injured when a frozen turkey was thrown through her windshield, shattering and smashing her face. After a long recovery period with most of her face having to be rebuilt, she empowered herself by forgiving the teenage boys who caused the accident. Now she is an inspirational speaker who deals with troubled teens. She ends the speeches with a joke

“I tell the kids that now for the rest of my life I have to be known as the Turkey Lady. Thank God it was a turkey, and not a ham, because I would have been known as Miss Piggy.”

That’s not Funny

Positive humor builds positivity. Negative humor breeds resentment and can create negative vibes. There are people who poke fun at another individual to achieve a sense of superiority. This is not advisable.

When people are repeatedly told that they are stupid, they believe it. A research team from Cardiff University in Wales tested this theory on two groups of blond women. One group was given ‘silly blond’ jokes to read before both groups were given intelligence tests. The group that read the jokes beforehand had much lower scores. Jokes have the power to build or destroy a person’s confidence and affect their behaviour.

Though there are no subjects that are categorically unacceptable to joke about, some topics are definitely more sensitive than others. Some jokes tend to be offensive and unnecessary, especially on touchy  topics like religion, race, gender, etc.

Though jokes about cultural or demographic difference may help ease sociopolitical tensions, when the joke on a sensitive subject falls flat, it is then perceived as crude, hostile commentary by the opposition. They may joke about their culture, but you can’t. The same is usually applicable in interpersonal relationships. “I can joke about my brother but you can’t joke about him.” An understanding of the situation and the people involved can help avoid making such blunders that offend people and ruin relationships.

Sometimes you also come across people who seem to totally lack a sense of humor. Damages to the right hemisphere in the brain can affect a person’s capacity to understand jokes. Then there are those who are not very empathetic. They lack that intuitive feeling or the sensitivity with regard to other people’s reactions. It could also be that they don’t really care that others did not find it funny.

Mourn your Losses Positively

Being resilient does not mean you don’t mourn your losses or feel frustrated. Even if they are facing a difficult or painful situation, resilient people have the capacity to feel both positive and negative emotions. It’s not that they are in denial, they acknowledge the problem and their feelings, but they look for and find a redeeming value or potential in the challenge they are facing.

The ones who are not so resilient turn fully negative if they have a run of bad luck. On the other hand the resilient ones usually manage to find some kind of silver lining even in the worst possible situations. “Guess I don’t have to worry about the sky falling on my head now.”

Humor can be a great help here. But you do need to be careful with your sense of humor. Some circumstances such as a funeral is definitely not the right place to be flippant. A boxing ring is a one place to keep bouncing back with humor. But then again, there are times when humor can make frustration worse if it’s not delivered in exactly the right way.

Challenge your Thought Process

We all have a in built survival mechanism that makes us focus more on the negative situations than the happier ones. If you look for it, you will find that there are more positive things happening in our lives. They may be little things, but it’s the little drops that make up the mighty ocean.

One of the keys to building resiliency is paying attention to these positive things and appreciating them, however small they are. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, then you need to train yourself to do that.

A key factor in building resiliency is taking note of positive experiences and appreciating them whenever and wherever they happen. Your thinking pattern is what triggers your emotional pattern. When we believe there is a higher ratio of positive incidents in our lives, it does not just build resilience, it increases our productivity and our happiness. We don’t just live, we thrive.

Whenever you find yourself thinking negatively, “I always lose the matches, I’ll never be a winner,” or “ She looks like a strong boxer, I’m surely going to lose,” you need to challenge those thoughts. “So what if she’s stronger and bigger, I am smaller and faster.” Being positive in the face of failure is the road to success.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
― Michael Jordan


Life will often knock you down. Get up and punch it back in the face.

What about getting knocked down in the boxing ring? To excel in this sport, you have to learn how to take some punches to throw back much more than you got.

Pairing your training sessions with a sense of humor is a sure way to succeed in life. Nothing can keep you down! Sign up for Gloveworx session today and Become Unstoppable.