Seeking Genuine Laughter for Greater Happiness

Only 10–15% of laughter is “real” but that can change.

Sean Kernan
6 min readFeb 15, 2024


My beloved and late-dog, Ottie, with his comfortable New Balance shoes, so that his pads never got wear-and-tear.

I was walking my large golden retriever through my neighborhood in South Tampa. Ottie was quite large for his breed, being muscular and weighing over 100 lbs. He was assertive but still very friendly. Every day is sunny when you are a “golden” as we call them.

The wind blew gently. Beams of sun shone down upon us through the canopy of trees lining the road. We turned on a street corner to a new block and I suddenly heard a bunch of yapping. I looked across the street and saw my neighbor, Tom. He was walking his aptly named chihuahua, Pebbles, who looked like he weighed all of four ounces. Tom and his husband had just moved here from London one year prior and were fun neighbors.

Pebbles was baring his teeth at Ottie, yapping so hard I thought his head would fall off. Ottie barely noticed. Finally, Tom paused, put both hands on his hips and looked down at his dog. Then, in a calm and matter-of-fact British accent, said, “Now, what are you doing dear Pebbles? You know he would totally destroy you.”

His random and proper candor with his dog made me burst out into a much-needed laugh. Tom saw me laugh and waved, and I returned the favor, and continued on with my day.

I’m thankful for little moments like this when they arrive, because they always lift my mood. Humor has an underappreciated utility in improving your quality of life and overall happiness. And, as we head into a stressful election year, with conflicts raging around the globe, there’s never been a better time to find a moment of reprieve.

What makes a good joke, anyways?

There are often three elements to a good joke. The first is incongruity, a misalignment of expectations and reality. The second, is finding resolution to the incongruity. The third, is the realization that the person telling the joke isn’t serious.

Mitch Hedberg was rather skilled with short one liners zingers, such as “I don’t have a girlfriend, I just know a girl who would be really mad if she heard me say that.” The incongruity comes with the realization that he actually has a girlfriend — or…



Sean Kernan

Writer and writing instructor. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.