Thursday, December 19, 2013

Laughter: more than the best workplace medicine

We all know the old saying that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter, though, is often seen as a distraction in the workplace. Certainly, there is a time and place for everything, but there should always be laughter. What is one big part of most of your fondest memories--laughter! Laughing floods our brains with endorphins, lifts your mood, lowers your blood pressure, and lowers stress. What boss doesn't want a happier, more focused, healthier worker? Humor and its usually accompanied laughter bring people together in a shared experience, brings people together at an emotional level, and can be the crowbar that opens up stressful situations.

Humor is a great way to break down barriers between people without them even know it is happening. When people get together and laugh they're sharing an experience. A group of people laughing is not only reacting, but everyone becomes an active participant in the event. Recall the times you've laughed just because someone else thought a joke was funny. How many times have you been laughing to the point of rolling on the floor simply because you can't stop laughing? How many of us have watched a movie alone and thought it was OK, but later when we watched the same thing with a someone who thought it was funny we immediately found humor too? Their laughter was infectious, and you shared an experience with that person you were not able to have alone. It is nearly impossible to work with people when you can't find any common ground.

Making someone laugh means you share something personal. When you can make someone laugh it shows that you get them as a person; it shows you know them on another level. Bringing someone to laughter is, in my opinion, as good as giving someone a hug when they're down. Hugging everyone in the library, though, is usually frowned upon, so why not make everyone laugh? 

Lightening the mood might be the best use of humor in the work environment. There's nothing to give us all a momentary break from the general stress of work than a lighthearted comment or joke. I don't mean we all need to be that guy no one can take seriously because all he does is joke and play practical jokes. What I mean is we need to be the guy who understands that jokes and the occasional office practical joke are good for everyone else, so they're good for us. I never mean that anyone needs to be bullying anyone else in the workplace, making inappropriate jokes, or harming anyone else in any way. I've found that the office that laughs together is the team that works together.

People like nothing more than feeling loved, being appreciated, and making other people laugh. Is there any workplace that would not be improved with a little of the best medicine possible? I suppose I, myself, have been harping on humor and laughter so much recently because of the medicinal effects--I have a prescription I promise.

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