Laugh Your Way to Happiness | VIA Institute

Laugh Your Way to Happiness

By Dr. Ryan Niemiec

Laughing Is Good For You

Who doesn't love to laugh? It makes you feel good! And science supports that laughter has many health-related benefits, such as improving circulation, reducing stress, relieving pain from the release of endorphins and helping to burn calories from the increase in heart rate.

But, did you know that you can also use laughter and specifically your strength of humor to create more happiness?

Research from humor scientist, Willibald Ruch, and his team, find that humor interventions affect our well-being and have some impact on depression too. They conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled study to investigate the role of humor and found five humor exercises that contributed positively to happiness.

5 Humor Exercises

1.) Three funny things: At the end of each day, write down the 3 funniest things you experienced that day. Describe the feelings during each experience.

2.) Count funny things: As each day progresses, keep track of all the funny things that happen. Briefly jot down each one so that you can get a total at the end of each day.

3.) Applying humor: Notice humorous things that happen during a typical day and add new humorous activities. You might include watching a comedy movie or sitcom, talking with your funniest friend on the phone, looking up funny things on the Internet, or reading comics or jokes.

4.) Collecting funny things: Recall one of the funniest things you experienced in the past (recent past or distant past) and write the memory down in as much detail as you can.

5.) Resolving stress with humor: Think about a stressful experience from your day. Write about how it was - or could have been - resolved in a funny and humorous way.

Each of the activities boosted happiness and lowered depression in the short-run, but the first three activities were especially effective, boosting happiness for six months!

As you read through the five activities above, which strikes you most? Try out one starting today or tomorrow and do it each day for 1 week. You might feel a little happier for it. And, at the least, you would be exploring and expanding your character strength of humor.

Reference:

Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2016). Humor-based online positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled long-term trial. Journal of Positive Psychology.

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