Humor is a positive emotion that helps counter-balance anger and other negative emotions in a conflict situation.
Think of a teeter-totter. On one end sit anger, resentment, irritation, and all the friends and relatives of these negative feelings. But, on the other end sit humor and other positive emotions. What will happen? The teeter-totter will shift depending on the relative weights on both ends.
It is not unusual to have negative feelings in almost any kind of relationship, but conflict and emotional distance can occur if the relationship lacks sufficient positive emotions to counter-balance the negative feelings.
For example, Tim and Tina were having a silly marital tiff about feeding the fish in their aquarium. Tim gave them fish food from the refrigerator; Tina thought the food was too cold and might harm them. They actually argued for about 15 minutes. Fortunately, however, they had built into their relationship an “automatic” stop wherein one or the other would say something humorous that would completely diffuse and de-activate the negative emotions that were building.
In this case, Tina said “I know the fish will get a stomach ache because I saw one swimming on its side rubbing it’s belly with the other fin”
This visual completely changed the atmosphere for both of them as they replaced negative feelings toward each other with laughter.
Humor is a powerful strategy to lower your stress levels, dissolve anger and instantly give you new ways to view conflict situations. This gives you, in turn, new ways to respond to a situation. Learning to respond instead of just react is an anger tool that we teach in our live anger classes as well as our online programs.
Often mood is elevated and anger is diffused just in the process of striving to find humor in difficult and frustrating situations. Laughing at ourselves and the situation help reveal that small things are not the earth-shaking events they sometimes seem to be. Looking at the problem or conflict from a different perspective can make it seem less formidable and thus more solvable.