As part of our special bi-monthly series on Character Strengths, we are posting articles that highlight the 24 strengths (your best innermost qualities) outlined by the VIA Institute on Character, and discussing how to better apply them in your everyday life. To take the free survey and find our your own top strengths, click here.
As Jacob stepped into his crowded office, he walked over to a group of colleagues who were quietly discussing work. Within seconds, he was midway through a funny story about his cab ride to work. The group laughed at Jacob’s quirky observations and one-liners. His strength of humor captivated them and lifted their energy levels.
And then there are people like me, who rarely tell jokes or funny stories but who enjoy being playful. My strength of humor, which happens to rank number 24 for me out of the 24 strengths found in all cultures, comes out when I’m with my young kids. I relish making up games, wrestling with them and giggling. For me, this strength might be low, but there is humor and playfulness inside me waiting to be unleashed.
Research shows that you can improve your humor and boost happiness! Try these three tips:
1. Be more funny
At the end of each day, write down three funny things you experienced. Describe your feelings with each. This will help you remember and use your humor more the next day.
2. Use humor as a stress release
Name one stressful event you experienced in the last day or two. Journal about how you could have handled the stress in a humorous way.
3. Watch movies that make you laugh
Make a list your top five funniest movies. Watch them over the course of a week, making a point to laugh and savor the humor in each one.
Remember to practice exercising your humor on a regular basis. It will benefit your body, mind and your personal relationships!
RYAN M. NIEMIEC, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist, certified coach, author and Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His latest book, Character Strengths Interventions: A Field-Guide for Practitioners, was released early this year. For more, visit viacharacter.org.