Humor | Character Strength | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what humor is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Humor?

Humor means to recognize what is amusing in situations, and to offer the lighter side to others. Humor is an important lubricant to social interactions, and can contribute to team building or moving toward group goals. Where other strengths are more or less essential for achieving certain types of goals or dealing with certain types of problems, humor is rarely an essential component to positive social interactions, but it is often a desirable one. It is also a valuable method of coping with distressing situations.

Humor involves the ability to make other people smile or laugh. It also means having a composed and cheerful view on adversity that allows an individual to see its light side and thereby sustain a good mood.

Which virtue is this strength?
Humor is a strength within the virtue category of transcendence, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Transcendence describes strengths that help you connect to the larger universe and provide meaning. The other strengths in Transcendence are appreciation of beauty & excellence , gratitude , hope , humor , and spirituality .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of humor found humorous people are socially attractive to others. People with a sense of humor tend to be healthier. For example, there are many physiological benefits to laughter, including increased oxygenation of the blood. Humor can also decrease social anxiety, thereby creating opportunities for social connection.

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used humor in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better
  • How do you initiate playfulness, and how does that change from situation to situation?
  • How do other people you know express playfulness? What can you learn from observing playfulness in others?
  • In what situations has humor been a barrier for you in connecting with others?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of humor at work in the world.

  • Watching a sitcom or funny movie with a friend or family member.
  • Looking for the lighter side of a difficult situation in your relationship. Bringing appropriate pleasure and playfulness to the situation.
  • Sending a funny (socially appropriate, please!) video from YouTube to several of your work colleagues. You might consider the timing of this, and send the video when your co-workers or work team could use a break from a stressful situation.

Apply Your Strength

  • Think about a past event in which you used humor for your benefit and the benefit of others.
  • Write down the humor of your everyday life. Each day make a conscious effort to be aware of your sense of humor, others' sense of humor, funny situations, and clever comments and record them in a daily journal.
  • Watch a funny sitcom/ movie or read a comic/funny blog daily.