When was the last time you had a laugh? I don’t mean a quick chuckle, but a really good belly laugh, where you almost cried (or did!). They say ‘Laughter is the best medicine’, and is very infectious, fun, free, and easy to use.
‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’ Charlie Chaplin
‘Tis the season to be jolly’, but not for everyone. It can also be a very stressful time of year. What could you do to cheer someone up today or over the holiday period?
The Power of Laughter
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. A good laugh will work quickly to bring your mind and body back into balance and make you feel good. Apart from inspiring hope and creating connections with others, it keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It can bring a new perspective to a situation.
‘Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand’. — Mark Twain
Laughter has so much power to heal and renew your emotions. It activates the natural relaxation response and massages our internal organs. Just remember how you felt after your last great laugh. The ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and mental health. So why don’t we do it more?
Why is Laughter so Rare?
We spend a huge amount of our waking hours at work and there can be enormous pressure on us to perform and meet targets. We can be faced with difficult situations on a daily basis. To relieve the stress, we could do with more laughter.
‘As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.’ — Lao Tsu
In this modern era of harassment or racial hatred claims, being politically correct and our words being spread globally in nanoseconds, perhaps more people are afraid of offending someone and therefore we don’t jest. Even unintentionally saying the wrong word can cause people to take offence. Is this killing banter and fun at work? Are we losing the art of being funny?
This is not to say we shouldn’t respect others and any form of offending language needs to be addressed, but are we destroying social interconnection and laughter by being too cautious or too sensitive? I can remember when my email box would receive jokes everyday. As I work from home, this was a good connector and a bit of fun for me. This has now dried up. Of course, laughter doesn’t have to be just about telling jokes.
Why do we find regular laughter hard to do? I met Miriam Cox, a Laughter Therapist, who helped people to laugh. I remember her telling me that one group of ladies she was finding difficult to work with said they had never been given permission to laugh before! How sad that they needed permission to laugh? She showed me how you can produce laughter whenever you want. It is just like a muscle, use it or lose it.
On a creative thinking course, one of my delegates was looking at how to deal with Monday morning syndrome. She decided to introduce a joke club in the first fifteen minutes of work. She then found people were looking forward to coming in. Compare that to another company which spent the first part of Monday analysing what went wrong the previous week!
A coachee recently started our session by asking ‘What do you get when a hen looks at a lettuce?’ ………..A Chicken Ceasar Salad! It brought a whole new dynamic to the coaching.
‘The most revolutionary act you can commit in society today is to be happy!’ Patch Adams
How to Laugh More
- Remember to smile and go from there.
- Give yourself permission to laugh. Even if everyone else is stressed and being miserable, it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.
- Make laughter a priority everyday. You can watch funny films, or read funny verse or items on social media.
- Surround yourself with positive people and share a laugh.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously and avoid being oversensitive or defensive. Anything can be offensive if you choose to take offence.
‘That ability to laugh at myself takes me from being a victim to being a victor’ Annie Keys
- Find the funny side of situations – ‘always look on the bright side of life’. If you don’t know whether to laugh or cry – choose to laugh.
- Laugh with people rather than at them. Empathise with their needs and culture. Clarify expectations of what is acceptable.
- Find your inner child and be silly – let go of inhibitions.
- Actively look for funny stories and share them.
- Find out about laughter yoga or other therapies.
‘You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old, because you stop laughing’ Michael Pritchard
How can you bring more laughter into your workplace? How can you help your team find the right way to jest and banter without causing offence? If you would like to discuss this further or share an appropriately funny story, please contact us.
Also published on Medium.