By Joe Love
Do you remember when you were young, feeling the prickliness of the carpet on your belly as you lay in your pajamas at the top of the stairs, while your parent’s party was hitting full swing below? How could you sleep, or even stay in your room, with whispers of noise and food aromas seeping up through the vents, tickling your imagination?
You wanted to know what all that action was about. You heard the conversation flow peppered with outbursts of laughter as sudden as a honking horn. You smiled, too, and wondered: What are they laughing at? What is so funny?
That question, “What are they laughing at?” is an unfortunate result of society’s lack of acceptance of laughter. One of the most common myths is that we need a reason to laugh, and not only a reason, but a good enough reason so that when other people ask us, “What are you laughing about?” they will laugh about it, too.
After all, infants and very young children laugh without needing a reason and we think how cute and good-natured they are. In fact, a recent study in Psychology Today Magazine, found that children laugh every four minutes. But, when adults laugh out loud without an apparent reason, we think they are either crazy or hiding something.
This is unfortunate because not only is laughter fun, but it also has been found by many physicians and therapists to be a powerful healing force. In fact, many therapists use laughter to help people share and work through painful experiences, such as terminal illnesses, sexual abuse and divorce. Laughter is a cathartic resolution of fear, anger and boredom; it is a cleansing of the soul.
Emotions have great impact on our body chemistry, because when we have emotions, our body chemistry changes, throwing our body out of its homeostatic balance and preparing us for something else.
For example, fear prepares us with the adrenaline rush and all the accompanying physiological responses. It prepares us for the fight or flight. If that doesn’t happen, or if it isn’t needed, or if it isn’t used to the extent that the body produces that chemical, then our body has to go back and rebalance the chemistry that’s been thrown out of whack. This process which is catharsis is one that all infants and children do naturally, and laughter, one form of catharsis, is a rebalancing of that chemistry.
Laughter also engages every major system in the body. According to studies conducted by the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, hearty laughter stimulates the internal organs making them work better through the increase of circulation and it heightens resistive vitality against disease. More specifically the studies found that laughter has beneficial effects on the lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines, heart, and the brain.
Laughter is so incredibly pervasive in our bodies that it not only does all kinds of electrochemical things to the muscle, skeletal, digestive, endocrine, and nervous systems, but is also connects us to each other. When we laugh together, we feel closer together. It’s just an amazing process.
Laughter is a process that can and should be encouraged in the workplace. It can be a catalyst to enhance team spirit and camaraderie. It can be helpful in defusing explosive situations and it can do wonders to reduce stress.
I teach my corporate clients to give their employees, short three-minute laughter breaks every two hours because I’ve found it helps restore creativity, clears thinking and builds stamina. Most importantly laughter breaks on a regular basis helps employees respond better when a major crisis occurs or an important project deadline is near.
Effective use of humor in the workplace is a smart investment because it can help your business build stronger customer relations. For example, clients who visit your office can tell if your staff is good-natured and genuinely enjoy their work.
Integrating more laughter into your workplace is easy. Here are some tips on how you can do it:
• Rotate responsibility to post a cartoon every week.
• Periodically recognize the employee who contributes the most toward making others laugh.
• Prepare lists of funny movies, television shows, books, and so on.
• Post funny pictures of staff people.
• Start a notebook of humor that people can turn to in time of need.
• On the bulletin board, post baby pictures of staff members and guess who’s who.
• Award a prize to the employee with the “worst customer” story.
• Post funny pet photos on the bulletin board.
It’s important to stay away from sexist, racist, and negative humor. You have to always remember that what makes you laugh won’t necessarily make someone else laugh.
Comedian and pianist Victor Borge once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Take advantage of the wisdom of this quote and learn to laugh a full, hearty laugh when you’re with other people. Not only will you be improving your own health and popularity, but that infectious laugh of yours will entice others to laugh their way to better health as well.
Copyright©2006 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and success coaching programs. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in career coach training. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many businesses around the world, on the subjects of leadership, achievement, goals, strategic business planning, and marketing. Joe is the author of three books, Starting Your Own Business, Finding Your Purpose In Life, and The Guerrilla Marketing Workbook.
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