Inspiring * Transformational * Courageous * Personable

Laugh a Little Y’all

Wake Up and Shake Up- It’s About You!

A sense of humor – is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart

and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person

down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.

-Hugh Sidey

Do you know anyone who suffers from terminal seriousness? You know, that guy or gal at the office who never cracks a smile, not even when everyone else is enjoying a good laugh about the abominable copier?

Consider this: Preschool children either smile or laugh an average of 400 times a day. But by the time they reach age 35, the number of times they smile or laugh each day dwindles to only 15! That’s an average of 15, which means some people never smile or laugh. So, if you don’t know someone with terminal seriousness, statistically speaking, there’s a good chance that someone is you!

I think we could all use more humor in our lives, don’t you? A life without humor is like a car without shocks – the ride is a lot bumpier and a lot less pleasant. Studies around the world have proven the physical and psychological benefits of humor. For example, at the UCLA Cancer Center, the Rx Laughter program uses humor as an integral part of the treatment for kids with cancer. Showing age- appropriate comedy movies during treatment provides great benefits for the children: painful procedures are better tolerated, less medication is needed, anxiety levels are lower and recovery times are shorter.

The medical benefits of humor aren’t isolated to the pediatric world. A team of Maryland researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in humorous situations than those with healthy hearts. Another long-term study at Loma Linda University found that laughter:

• Lowers blood pressure;

• Boosts the body’s immune function;

• Releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers;

• Reduces stress hormones;

• Produces a sense of well-being.

Talk about the need for a healthy dose of humor – especially when you consider those last two benefits. Stress is a significant part of our daily lives. In fact, according to the United Nations International Labor Organization, stress has become one of the most serious health issues of our time, with a long list of physical and psychological side effects. Yet one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to diminish stress is to take a walk on the lighthearted side and have a few laughs.

Humor is also beneficial for our personal and professional relationships. As Victor Borge, the popular comedic pianist, once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Connecting with others through humor is a non-threatening way to break down the walls people sometimes place around themselves. The right kind of humor can diffuse a tense or uncomfortable situation between people and even build rapport.

Ironically, it seems that the one place where we often have the least amount of humor is also the very place where we need it the most – at work! Injecting more humor into our work encourages people to see the ironies and follies in their thought processes, behaviors and procedures. Humor is a reminder to lighten up and not take our jobs too seriously.

The company best known for humor and fun in the workplace is Southwest Airlines. It has transformed “fun at work” into an art form. Southwest employees’ lighthearted interaction with passengers in no way diminishes their credibility or their ability to handle flight operations safely like clockwork. The fun, enjoyable atmosphere on Southwest flights is instrumental in keeping customers coming back. A flight attendant who creates a fun experience for passengers doesn’t cost the company any additional money, but the rewards of this type of attitude are priceless. It’s no coincidence that Southwest is consistently the most profitable airline in the nation.

Encouraging a spirit of fun in the workplace has proven to be good for the bottom line for many other companies. On corporate study showed that after humor was woven into the workplace, the company experienced a 21 percent drop in staff turnover and a 38 percent drop in Friday absenteeism. The improvements didn’t come about because people eagerly rushed to work to read the joke of the day. It was because the corporate culture had shifted, and for the first time, employees saw the human side of their leaders and bonded with one another.

What can adding humor and fun to the workplace do for you and

your organization?

• Boost morale;

• Improve communication;

• Bridge generational and multicultural gaps;

• Encourage creativity;

• Increase overall job satisfaction.

The month of April starts with All Fools Day. The month now known for rain showers and the taxman has been ushered in with good-spirited tomfoolery since the 1500’s. In 1976, April was named National Humor Month to remind us that a light-hearted sense of fun goes a long way in our stress-filled lives.  So go out there, have a laugh and live on the lighter side for a bit!

About the Author
In 1995, Mercedes Ramirez Johnson narrowly survived a commercial airplane crash that killed 160 people, including her parents. As one of only four survivors of this tragedy, she vowed that she would make her second chance at life count…and that she has – not only for herself, but also for the tens of thousands of people who have heard her story and her message.

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