Imagine, you're in the middle of the stage making your presentation; you know each word of it by heart because you have spent so much time writing it, searching for information and preparing, but… despite all this you are nervous, your palms are wet, you feel stressed and strained… you can’t concentrate on the subject and you are just watching you thoughts leaving your head like beetles. But suddenly here’s a decisive tension in the air. Amidst your recounting and discussion about production targets and external threats, about burning human problems and their solutions there comes a loud tapping at the windows behind you. Just “Boom!” The tapping stops, discussion continues but then at a particularly sensitive moment, the tapping resumes with a vengeance; and it doesn’t stop either! The suspense is killing you, so with apologies to your audience you excuse yourself and retract the curtains. The sight is more than your audience can bear; a dissonant whisper appears, laughter grows to a crescendo as tears roll down the faces of the attendees, and then, after some pause, when the laughter dies down, the mood in the room is decidedly more cordial. You continue your presentation but with some kind of relief and with no any suspense and effort. It’s almost as if someone opened a pressure-relief valve; as if the cloud had turned into a rain and the rain had stopped and a sunny weather with fresh wind came back; it’s just like a balloon has suddenly burst and released some air. In fact, in a way that’s just what happened.
This is a true story; it could not have been told if I wanted to. But it does underscore the profound impact that laughter can provide wherever we are!
Did you know that laughter…
• Reduces stress? Laughter has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine, while at the same time it increasse levels of ‘feel good’ endorphins. (Laughter decreases stress hormones. Laughter decreases epinephrine levels and decrease dopamine levels which are associated with high blood pressure )
• Enhances the immune system? Laughter boosts the number and activity level of killer cells. Those that attack viral infections and some cancer and tumor cells
• Improves creativity and productivity? Studies have shown that laughter expands our vision and opens us up to new ideas and potential.
• Improves communication and rapport? Hey, just take a look at the boardroom example above.
• Feels real good? Yeah, that’s a no brainer but I had to throw it in.
• Laughter relaxes muscles
• It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 muscles to laugh.
• The most startling tidbit is that we’re born with a sense of fun. The average preschooler laughs or smiles about 400 times per day. By the time he or she grows up, the number decreases to a mere 15 times per day.
Surround yourself with laughter
Laughing is contagious. It is easier to laugh about a funny movie in a crowded cinema than alone at home in front of the TV. Many people have difficulties laughing at home, but love to be infected in a cheerful group.
Studies have shown: people who laugh 30 times a day or more are healthier and are less often infected with diseases. If you are not achieving this number, the suggestion is to spend more time with happy, joyous people. Their company is much more effective than any antidepressant and much healthier as well. Keep the phone numbers of some people of that kind handy for an outermost emergency.
Laughter at the workplace
Due to too much stress the work place is become too serious. Our society has a history of equating work with seriousness and many managers and executives make a point of perpetuating the notion. People think that serious people are more responsible and more productive. This is not true. More productive people are those who take their work seriously but take themselves lightly.