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Laugh at Work — It Feels Good and Makes You More Productive

Note from The Social Workplace: Below is a combination of excerpts from HR Communicator and And by the way… our personal source of daily laughter is to read posts from You should check it out (although it’s not intended for the faint of heart!).

A good laugh increases productivity, teamwork, employee retention, and job satisfaction, writes Karen McConnaughey in Today is April Fools’ Day and the start of Celebrate National Laugh at Work Week. Need some suggestions to keep the positive humor coming? McConnaughey offers 19 tips for getting a good laugh. You can read the comics or incorporate a fun ritual into your daily routine. Laughter is good for your health and that’s no joke. — Maggie Glynn, HR Communicator

National Laugh at Work Week – starts on April 1 (April 1-7, 2011)

Have a giggle-fest
By Karen McConnaughey
, actually is some truth to the old saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California discovered that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts immune function.

If you’re an employer, why not take this week to run a multi-tiered humor-based campaign geared to your employees and clients? If you’re not at work, hand out toys to people you meet.

Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural relaxants. A good laugh increases productivity, teamwork, employee retention, and job satisfaction. Humor also increases communication throughout the workplace and decreases stress levels.

Smile, Laugh Large and Fight ‘Terminal Seriousness’ – For some people laughing is a lost art, but it can be one of our most powerful ’life coping’ tools. It is one of the world’s most potent health supplements, not toxic, low-calorie and absolutely free. Did you know that studies show that those with a sense of humor are better communicators, team players and are more creative problem solvers? And contrary to popular belief, they are more productive and less distracted than their humorless counterparts. So why don’t we use our humor more? Being able to laugh about our situation and ourselves helps us to release the tension, regain our perspective, accept that which we cannot change and experience joy. The most important tip to remember if you need to regain your sense of humor, is NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY! We’re not perfect. I share silly stories about things I’ve done all the time…things that no one would know if I didn’t tell on myself. We all have a good laugh. I think I’m funny…thank goodness others think so too. I absolutely love laughing at myself!

Laughter is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

As Mark Twain once said, “Studying humor is like dissecting a frog — you may know a lot but you end up with a dead frog.” Nonetheless, we’re giving it a try. Here are 19 tips for getting — or growing — your sense of humor, based partly on the idea that you can’t be funny if you don’t understand what funny is. This is the “Reader’s Digest” version!:

1. First, regain your smile. A smile and a laugh aren’t the same thing, but they do live in the same neighborhood. Be sure to smile at simple pleasures — the sight of kids playing, a loved one or friend approaching, the successful completion of a task, the witnessing of something amazing or humorous. Smiles indicate that stress and the weight of the world haven’t overcome you. If your day isn’t marked by at least a few dozen, then you need to explore whether you are depressed or overly stressed.

2. Treat yourself to a comedy festival. Rent movies like Meet the Parents; Young Frankenstein; Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; This Is Spinal Tap; Animal House; Blazing Saddles; Trading Places; Finding Nemo. Reward yourself frequently with the gift of laughter, Hollywood style. Now some of these movies are lost on me, so we all have to find our sense of humor somewhere. I was embarrassed when I laughed out loud watching Porky’s with a friend. I can’t believe I put that in print!

3. Recall several of the most embarrassing moments in your life. Then find the humor in them. Now practice telling stories describing them in a humorous way. It might take a little exaggeration or dramatization, but that’s what good storytelling is all about. By revealing your vulnerable moments and being self-deprecating, you open yourself up much more to the humorous aspects of life. Would you believe that I made people cry with laughter when I told the story of crashing the Thunderbird I was allowed to test dirve for a week as a part of a special program? The guy I talked to on the phone at the Ford place was even laughing by the time we finished the ‘report!’

4. Anytime something annoying and frustrating occurs, turn it on its head and find the humor. Sure, you can be angry at getting splashed with mud, stepping in dog poop, or inadvertently throwing a red towel in with the white laundry. In fact, that is probably the most normal response. But it doesn’t accomplish anything other than to put you in a sour mood. Better to find a way to laugh at life’s little annoyances. One way to do that: Think about it as if it happened to someone else, someone you like — or maybe someone you don’t. In fact, keep running through the Rolodex in your head until you find the best person you can think of to put in your current predicament. Laugh at him, then laugh at yourself!

5. Read the comics every day and cut out the ones that remind you of your life. Post them on a bulletin board or the refrigerator or anywhere else you can see them frequently. I do this quite often…in fact if there’s one thing I miss about living in Mexico, it’s the Sunday comics in my local newspaper. They would always start my day off perfectly!

6. Sort through family photographs and write funny captions or one-liners to go with your favorites. When you need a pick-me-up, pull out the album. Being acquainted with the software PhotoShop is one of my favorite things, because I can take normal photographs and make them funny…they make great gifts!

7. Every night at dinner, make family members share one funny or even embarrassing moment of their day.

8. When a person offends you or makes you angry, respond with humor rather than hostility. For instance, if someone is always late, say, “Well, I’m glad you’re not running an airline.” Life is too short to turn every personal affront into a battle. However, if you are constantly offended by someone in particular, yes, take it seriously and take appropriate action. But for occasional troubles, or if nothing you do can change the person or situation, take the humor response.

A Daily Ritual

9. Sign up to receive the Top 10 list from David Letterman every day via e-mail.

10. Spend 15 minutes a day having a giggling session. Here’s how you do it: You and another person (partner, kid, friend, etc.) lie on the floor with your head on her stomach, and her head on another person’s stomach and so on (the more people the better). The first person says, “Ha.” The next person says, “Ha-ha.” The third person says, “Ha-ha-ha.” And so on. We guarantee you’ll be laughing in no time. We tried it…they’re right!

11. Read the activity listings page in the newspaper and choose some laugh-inducing events to attend. It could be the circus, a movie, a stand-up comic, or a funny play. Sometimes it takes a professional to get you to regain your sense of humor.

12. Add an item to your daily to-do list: Find something humorous. Don’t mark it off until you do it, suggests Jeanne Robertson, a humor expert and author of several books on the topic. When you run into friends or coworkers, ask them to tell you one funny thing that has happened to them in the past couple of weeks. Become known as a person who wants to hear humorous true stories as opposed to an individual who prefers to hear gossip.

14. Find a humor buddy. This is someone you can call just to tell him something funny; someone who will also call you with funny stories of things he’s seen or experienced. Of all the things I love about Bill, his sense of humor has got to be number one. We started laughing the minute we met in April 2002 and haven’t stopped since. We are so lucky!

15. Exaggerate and overstate problems. Making the situation bigger than life can help us to regain a humorous perspective, says Patty Wooten, R.N., an award-winning humorist and author of Compassionate Laughter: Jest for the Health of It. Cartoon caricatures, slapstick comedy, and clowning articles are all based on exaggeration, she notes. That’s why I’m known as the Drama Queen…I can make a story out of almost anything!

16. Develop a silly routine to break a dark mood. It could be something as silly as speaking with a Swedish accent (unless you are Swedish, of course). Now that’s funny! Bill does his ‘man walk’ when he wants to make me laugh…and you know, it ALWAYS does. I could have gotten tired of it by now, but I choose not to…I choose to appreciate the fact that my man likes to act silly…what an art!

17. Create a humor environment. Have a ha-ha bulletin board where you only post funny sayings or signs, suggests Allen Klein, an award-winning professional speaker and author of The Healing Power of Humor. His favorite funny sign: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

18. Experiment with jokes. Learn one simple joke each week and spread it around. One of Klein’s favorites relates to his baldness: “What do you call a line of rabbits walking backward? A receding hare line.” Next time you’re around Bill, ask to hear the ‘pig joke.’ It’s my favorite, I ask for it and he changes it every time. It cracks me up. Did I say how lucky I was?

19. Focus humor on yourself. “Because of my lack of hair,” Klein says, “I tell people that I’m a former expert on how to cure baldness.”

When used appropriately, humor can give every situation a positive spin, even the stress of your workday. Let National Laugh at Work Week be your excuse to add some humor to your day. But don’t stop there; use these tips throughout the year.


34 thoughts on “Laugh at Work — It Feels Good and Makes You More Productive”

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