Forget exercise, love and money – they key to happiness could be learning to laugh at yourself.
Psychologists studying different styles of humour found that those who made self-deprecating jokes had better mental health and were more sociable.
The findings go against the traditional notion that self-deprecating humour makes us feel worse.
The researchers, from the University of Granada in Spain, carried out personality tests on more than 1,000 participants and gave them a questionnaire which assessed their humour style.
Lead author Jorge Torres-Marin said: ‘A greater tendency to employ self-deprecating humour is indicative of high scores in wellbeing dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability.’
Other types of humour looked on positively included ‘adaptive’ styles – jokes aimed at making social relationships stronger – and ‘self-enhancing’ humour, which entails sustaining a humorous view in adverse and stressful situations.
Both of these styles were associated with satisfaction, happiness and hope.
The authors found humour could also be harnessed by dishonest rogues, the journal Personality and Individual Differences reports. ‘Humour enables individuals with low scores in honesty to build trust and closeness with other people to manipulate them or obtain advantages in the future,’ they warned.