Laughing is a great way to release tension and reduce stress, and new research is showing that laughter can also boost happiness and decrease depression. Isn’t that a good reason to tickle your funny bone?
Humor scientist, Willibald Ruch, and his team, finds that humor interventions affect our well-being and have some impact on depression, too. The Ruch team conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled study to investigate the role of humor. The five humor exercises they tested over a period of one week were:
1.) Three funny things: At the end of each day, write down the three funniest things you experienced that day. Describe your 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, talking with your funniest friend on the phone, looking up funny things on the internet, or reading comics and 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 resonates with you the most? Try out one starting today or tomorrow and do it each day for a week. You might feel a little happier for it. And, at the least, you will be exploring and expanding your character strength of humor.
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.