Why does a good joke or two always seem to make us feel better?
One reason may be that when you're in a bad mood you're infected by all sorts of negative emotions. So a funny joke replaces bad emotions with good ones.
But lots of things, like getting a compliment or reading a good book, also convey positive emotions. Yet studies have shown that there's something about a good joke, in particular, that's good at chasing away the blues.
So What's The Secret?
It has to do with the mental work involved in "getting" a joke. Say you're in a bad mood, feeling sort of depressed and you are told a joke:
Why won't sharks attack lawyers? Why? Professional courtesy.
It's not the greatest joke in the world, but it takes a little thinking to get the punch line. And when you do that, your mind is temporarily distracted from what's weighing it down.
Solving The Puzzle
There's a sort of mental elation that comes with solving the puzzle.
It's almost like you forget you're in a bad mood. Of course, some moods are so dark that not even the funniest joke will do the trick. But often times, a clever joke really does lighten a bad mood.