Greater Good in Action logo

Three Funny Things

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins
Three Funny Things

Why You Should Try It

Many of us spend our days on serious matters, doing serious work and having serious conversations. Taking some time to reflect on the silly could help you reclaim some playful lightheartedness in your life.

Indeed, research shows that humor is powerful: It can drive bonding between people and learning in the classroom. Laughter has physical effects on our bodies: It releases dopamine, increases blood flow, and strengthens the heart. And seeing the humor in a tough situation can even be a healthy way to cope.

Perhaps that’s why Three Funny Things, in particular, has been shown to reduce depression and boost happiness for months after just one week of practice.

Time Required

10 minutes/day for at least one week.

How to Do It

For one week, take 10 minutes every day to complete the following:

It is important to create a physical record of your items by writing them down; it is not enough simply to do this exercise in your head. 

Here are some other tips you may find helpful for your writing: 

Evidence It That Works

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, 11(6), 584-94.

In this study, participants who journaled about Three Funny Things every evening for a week decreased in depression immediately afterward, and increased in happiness up to six months later, compared to a control group who journaled about their early memories.

Why to Try It

Three Funny Things encourages us to focus on the good things in life—in particular, those entertaining, absurd, or knee-slapping moments. Rather than ruminating about problems, we direct our attention to particularly fun and pleasant experiences, often ones that involve other people. By spending time reflecting in this way, we have the opportunity to relive that amusement in the present.

Journaling about Three Funny Things could also shift our long-term perspective. Over time, we may become quicker to laugh and more open to seeing the humor in everyday life.


Willibald Ruch, Ph.D., University of Zurich
Sara Wellenzohn, University of Zurich
René Proyer, Ph.D., Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

For More

Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2015). Strengths-based positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled online trial on long-term effects for a signature strengths- vs. a lesser-strengths intervention. Frontiers in Psychology 6: 456.

Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R., & Ruch, W. (2016). How do positive psychology interventions work? A short-term placebo-controlled humor-based study on the role of the time focus. Personality and Individual Differences 96: 1-6.