Humor: How It Makes You Beautiful

Woody Allen has snagged some lovely leading ladies, from Diane Keaton to Mia Farrow. And (shocker) it probably had more to do with his undeniable wit than the stereotypical “tall, dark and handsome” qualities.Whether or not hypochondriac jokes are your style, everyone’s attracted to humor in some way. It’s one reason why “a good sense of humor” tops people’s list of what they look for in a partner. Once you’re in a relationship, humor can help you steer clear of ugly conflicts. It aids your other relationships, too, helping you bond with old friends and make new ones.QUIZ: What Are Your Humor Styles?Even when you’re alone, appreciating life’s comical side can help you cope with more serious issues (some of the best comedians used humor to get through hard times growing up). Here’s a quick list of all the ways humor makes you beautiful.Humor makes you more attractive. In one study, men who cracked funny jokes received about three times as many phone numbers from women than men who didn’t. Why? Possibly because we view being funny as an important social skill, which moves you up on the social status ladder.In that same study, the humorous men were not only seen as more attractive, but also more intelligent, funny and sociable. To be quick-witted, you have to be sharp, after all.So why are women so hot on humor? When something’s funny, certain pleasure centers in the brain are activated more in women than in men—the left prefrontal cortex (which suggests a greater emphasis on language) and the nucleus accumbens (part of the brain’s “reward center”).COLUMN: Wanting a Funny PartnerThe study also found that women had lower expectations that something (in this case, a cartoon) would be funny, so they experienced a bigger mental payoff when the punchlines came. This extra dose of pleasure may be a hint to why women value humor so much.Bottom line: Whether you’re telling the joke or just laughing, that smile on your face will make you look more approachable. Not to mention, both funny women and men report having more sex.Humor reflects a happy relationship. By the time you’re actually in a relationship, humor comes in handy when you inevitably hit a disagreement. Recent studies suggest that laughter enhances the quality of romantic relationships. It’s especially useful during conflict. Being able to laugh about negative (or neutral) events with your partner boosts relationship satisfaction.COLUMN: Laughter is the Best MedicineHumor boosts your health. When it comes to your relationship with friends and yourself, laughing can enhance your physical and emotional wellbeing.“Humor is an excellent way to create stronger social bonds and cohesion. It relates to whether or not people can ‘get the joke’ or not,”  says Kathryn Bouskill a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University. This bonding can help during trying times, as she’s discovered in her study of breast cancer coping.“The data on the benefits of social connection and social support on stress relief is particularly strong among breast cancer patients,” Bouskill says. “Humor is a cognitive way to take something serious and turn it on its head. In this way, humor creates a mental distance from stress.”The deactivation of the stress response that comes from social support can improve immune function, Bouskill says. This immune system boost is seen across contexts.QUIZ: Are You Feeling Stressed?In a lab study, women who watched a funny movie reported less stress and experienced better immune system functioning compared to a control group.For even more evidence that humor can benefit your health: For Type 2 diabetics, laughing is linked with lower blood levels of prorenin, which in turn could lower the chance of kidney-related complications.So we can’t resist thinking that laughter may be our best medicine. You can at least count on it to make you look glowing, no matter what kind of day you’re having.Now that you’ve read about all the benefits of humor, test yours! Take our Humor Styles Quiz to learn how your own personal sense of humor is affecting your inner and outer beauty. The quiz breaks your humor into four different styles, some good for beauty, some bad.  See where your laughter falls!Take the Humor Styles Quiz!

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