The Power of Laughter
It’s long been said that laughter is the best medicine. In the 1300’s, Henri de Mondeville, a French Surgeon, was already studying and documenting the positive effects of using laughter as therapy for pain reduction with his patients. And a full millennium prior that, Aristotle theorized that “Laughter is a bodily exercise, precious to Health.” The power of laughter has deep roots.
This past weekend’s Parade magazine featured an article on comedian, Jim Gaffigan. His routines are usually about finding humor in the everyday activities of being a husband, father, his love of food and lack of desire to exercise to offset his intake. The message in the article was the need to laugh, maybe more now than ever before and that anyone can do it regardless of their current circumstances.
Science has proven that laughter increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, so it really does improve your resistance to diseases. Laughter also decreases stress hormones like cortisol. Additionally, laughter triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s feel-good chemical), thus reducing pain as Mondeville formulated into his treatment programs over 700 years ago.
With so many in some phase of reduced contact or working remotely at this time there can be challenges in human interactions, that may naturally increase the likelihood of having something to laugh about it. Many work environments have at least one TV running in the background, certainly when it comes to news updates, there are few stories that give you much to laugh about. Office lobbies often have a business channel on with the market updates constantly scrolling, as long as the markets are up, it’s hello endorphins, but cortisol spikes on the down days. Combine that with the daily news feeds and the only laughing you can muster is how chaotic everything is.
The good news is you do have the power to control it. You may not be able to control the output from the external sources, but to a degree you can control the input…what you are feeding yourself. In turn, the output you can control is what comes directly from you. You can choose to laugh and choose to try and make others laugh. That is not to insinuate the everything is a joke and laughing about everything is a miracle solution. There are times to be serious and times to lighten up. The idea is finding the balance so you do experience and help others experience the joy that comes from a good laugh.
In an effort to give you some material to inject a little humor, provide an icebreaker, and hopefully a little laughter at your next meeting here’s a few (corny) business-related jokes. If you can say them with the voice inflection and dry delivery of comedian Steven Wright, it will up your chances of succeeding…
- I travel around the country giving seminars on the beneficial features of dried grapes….I’m in the business of raisin awareness.
- My friend started a business exporting artificial limbs to hospitals in foreign countries….He’s an international arms dealer.
- My friend’s boss asked him to start his presentation with a joke…the first slide was his pay-stub.
- A new small business was opening and one of the owner’s friends arranged for flowers to be sent to mark the occasion and wish the owner luck. The flowers arrived at the new business and the business owner read the accompanying card to find it said, “Rest in Peace”. The business owner rang his friend and told him what the card read. The friend was outraged and called the florist to complain. After he had told the florist of the obvious mistake and how angry he was, the florist said, “Sir, I’m really sorry for the mistake, but just know that somewhere there’s a funeral taking place today, and with flowers and a note saying, ‘Congratulations on your new location!”
Not into jokes? A few years ago, a study was release that showed a 10% increase in productivity for coworkers who had simply been shown a short comedy video clip vs those who did not. (Note: For you bingers…it was a short video, not 5 seasons uninterrupted!) The point is whether it’s laughing at corny jokes, laughing at yourself, laughing at what you can’t control, or just intentionally experiencing anything that makes you laugh, find a way to incorporate laughter into your life.
Finally, if you’re stuck on a simple way to intentionally increase your laughter, one suggestion that is hard to beat is streaming a favorite sitcom. There are lots to choose from and when you’re streaming you can skip the commercials, political ads, and breaking news interruptions. As referenced above, just set some parameters so you don’t do too much of a good thing!
What about you? Are you laughing enough? Even in the face of all the challenges in our world we need to find and make time to laugh. Laughter really is fuel for your mind and body!
As always, we value your thoughts (and corny jokes) in the space below.
Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach