“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
No matter how stressed or worried you may be about what is happening at your job or in your personal life, studies show laughter has been known to boost mood and release tension.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has both short-term and long-term effects on the body. It increases the intake of oxygen, which stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles. It improves the immune system, relieves pain, improves mood while lessening anxiety, and makes it easier to cope with difficult moments in your life.
So why aren’t more people cultivating more humor and laughter in their lives, especially at work?
For starters, they may be perceived in the workplace as not being truly serious about their work, as being a goof-off, or not being promotable. So they keep their humor in check rather than risk reprisals at work.
But studies show that humor and laughter can boost work productivity. According to this Forbes article, humor can be key to business success in several ways:
* Humor, when used wisely, can help win friends and influence people. People enjoy working with people they like. But don’t be snarky, say experts, which is not good for team building, and don’t offend others.
* It boosts morale among team members. People who share a good laugh form a bond over a shared experience.
* Humor can make your company differentiate itself from competitors. If you can make customers laugh, it makes your company more memorable, and it can be part of your branding.
* Humor helps create an upbeat office environment that encourages interaction among team members and brainstorm new ideas, which lead to greater productivity and greater product innovation.
* Humor is a stress-buster, puts people at ease and builds trust.
Whether you work from home alone without co-workers or work in a not-so-fun office, there are ways to bring laughter into your work life. Here are a few ideas:
* Sign up to receive a joke of the day or cartoon of the day from any number of websites. My personal favorite is Savage Chickens by cartoonist Doug Savage. (www.savagechickens.com). Each morning during the week, I receive a cartoon in my email inbox, and I start my day with a smile with minimal interruption to my work day.
* Post a few funny cartoons at your desk so you have something to laugh at throughout the day.
* Recruit colleagues to participate in a skit that encourages them to express their humorous side.
* Set out games that team members can work on throughout the day, such as a crossword puzzle or chess board.
* Away from work or in off hours, indulge in a comedy-a-thon, playing back-to-back-to-back episodes of your favorite comedy or movie series.
* Visit a comedy club, or take an improvisational class.
* Spend a few minutes (and I do mean a few minutes, not hours) on YouTube videos. Just don’t spend so much time on the site that it interferes with your work.
* Enjoy a comedy festival, like the Cat Video Festival that tours the country each year.
Laughter is good for your heart, mind and soul. Take the time each day to put a little more laughter into your life, and share it with someone else. It just may improve your work life.