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.
People who feel at ease, secure and happy achieve more. They are better at constructive problem solving, suffer less stress and take less sick leave. A playful approach to everyday things is a key factor in keeping healthy. Daily chores are less burdensome when we laugh while doing them. We aren't always having fun, but we do have a lot more fun with laughter than without. Laughter puts anxiety on a back burner for everyone. We can't laugh and worry at the same time.
Incorporate laughter into meetings.
The unexpected laugh may be the most fun. But even setting the mood (let’s call it the inspired laugh) can be beneficial. Why not set aside a few moments in your next meeting for a bit of joke telling, a funny story or something else to lighten the mood?
One final tidbit I’d like you to consider- laughter is a valuable work-place addition but it’s a serious matter too. That is, laughter is great when it’s genuine but meaningless when it’s staged. I’m not referring to unexpected versus inspired laughter but heart-felt versus contrived. Real laughter comes from deep inside; watching others laugh might lighten our grip on the restraints but genuine laughter is a spontaneous response- we permit something to move us to giddiness. Permit yourself to be moved and you will move others. The benefits of laughter in the workplace are real. Let your laughter be felt and heard!
Laughing is a serious business. Topicality of the problem today
Up to 90 percent of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
$300 billion per year or $7,500 each employee is paid out for stress-related compensation claims
1 million workers went on stress-related disability in 2004
75% of doctor visits are for stress-related conditions
Eight of the top 10 prescription drugs marketed today are for stress-related conditions
Stress is directly associated with depression, anxiety, asthma, alcohol/drug addictions and other conditions that affect the nervous and immune systems.
Approximately 100 million Americans suffer stress related from chronic health conditions: heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
Solution of the problem
First there was restructuring; then there was downsizing. Now there has been devised another way of making as much money as possible from business, and another breed of management consultant to go with it. This time it's laughter and the expert is the humour consultant. These are people who can charge $5,000 an hour to come and tell you that laughter really is good for your business. As you read this, entire departments of companies are being locked in anonymous hotel rooms to watch old American TV shows, with laugh tracks to help them reach a satisfying belly laugh with their colleagues.
Yet there are scientists and doctors too who will assure you that laughter has a very important role both in keeping us healthy mentally and physically, and in establishing our place in the social ladder. Quite serious scientists have realised that if we're making happy noises, then we probably are happy.
Laughter therapy is the practice of getting your staff to laugh aloud more - should at least be more relaxing than weekends spent tramping around the rocks. For around 20 years it has been made management training videos which were sold to companies around the world. What the videos aim to do is take a management situation, like a budget-setting meeting or making someone redundant, and show how to do it and how not to do it. Hopefully, managers will laugh at the ways not to do it because they recognise the bad techniques. Then they will realise how they need to improve. But it should be pointed out that wild-eyed managers who instruct their stall to laugh spontaneously every five minutes are doomed to failure. "You cannot force anyone to laugh any more than you can force them to fall in love with you". It also might actually undermine the boss's authority.
Laughter is a logical part of the solution.
Laughter is a great communication enhancer and it said that “people who laugh together, work better together”. This is why Laughter training is so effective for team building, stress management, communication and leadership programs. Group laughter is a team experience that reduces ego and overcomes inhibitions and shyness. The shared positive experience creates bonds between all participants including managers and staff and reduces barriers to communication.
|3. Incr Increased Emotinal Intelligence (EI) | Improved Communication & Teamwork | |It counteracts anxiety |It breaks down barriers | |It fosters a sense of well being |It makes us more likeable | |It generates more feelings of optimism and “can do” |It makes us more transparent | |It stimulates a more positive outlook |It connects and bonds people | |It develops our innate sense of humor |It develops our sense of humor and breaks down our inhibitions | |It enhances communication through increased confidence |It enhances a sense of potential | |It reduces tension and irritability |It brings out the best in people | |It creates a happier disposition |It enhances self-esteem in groups | | |It creates safety | | |Criticism collapses | | |It interrupts the power struggle | | |It diffuses conflict | | |When we laugh with others, we ourselves are fun |
Results are rapidly visible. People visibly shine physically, mentally and emotionally. They become more focused and committed to the company, their work, and their colleagues. ULTIMATE RESULT: Enhanced success of your business
7. Enhanced Innovation and Peak Performance
Laughter stimulates and is stimulated by playfulness. When people play, they are at their most creative. Advertising agencies frequently use play and laughter to move them from analytical assessment to the creative flow of ideas. The natural and spontaneous laughter then arises through laughter training, bypasses the left brained rationality and the aspect of self-limiting control. Laughter stimulates right brain activity, which is the function of: Invention, Creativity, Intuition, Imagination, Music, Art.
Robert Provine’s Research
"We found that most laughter is not a response to jokes. When you hear what people say just before they laugh, it usually has nothing to do with a formal effort at humour, such as a joke. It's just everyday comments like 'Gotta go now, ha-ha-ha!’ We'd go to public places and find people in groups. When we'd hear a group of people laughing we would eavesdrop and record who'd just spoken before the laughter occurred. One of the surprises was that speakers laughed more than the person being spoken to. This goes against the folk wisdom, and looking at comedy performances as a model of laughter isn't appropriate - because typically you have a deadpan, non-laughing speaker, the comedian, talking to an audience that responds. That's not true in everyday life." His team were able to put a precise figure on how much more speakers laugh than audiences. 46 per cent. "It's quite a big effect," says Professor Provine.
But the real clue to power in the office comes when you analyse what happens when the sexes are laughing. "Both males and females laugh more when a male is talking to them than when a female is talking to them."When you get on to the dangerous territory: what does laughing with, or at, the boss indicate? "Laughing with the boss would be an acknowledgement of authority. But you wouldn’t laugh at the boss." Except perhaps when you learn how much they are paying humour consultants to buck you up.
9. We Just Need to Have FUN
Do you have fun every day? The fun that makes you run out on a sunny day and play in the park, with or without children? Or that makes you crank up the stereo and go dancing through the house bellowing at the top of your lungs, despite the fact that dogs are howling outside? If you don’t do this on occasion you’re really missing out! In fact, you could be self-sabotaging your everyday goals by not incorporating fun into your daily existence. Yes, you read correctly, I did say daily!
Do you need to improve your ability to laugh more?
To add laughter and humour to your everyday life you should:
1. Hang around funny friends, or better yet, marry a funny partner.
2. Start looking for the absurd, silly, incongruous activities that go on around you each day.
3. Take a 5-10 minute humour break each day. Read jokes, add to a humour notebook, and listen to a funny tape.
4. Rent a comedy video, go to a funny movie, and watch humorous programs on television.
5. If you hear a joke you really like, write it down, or tell it to someone else to help you remember it.
6. Spend more time having fun with children maybe you will catch a few hundred laughs off them! Better still join a laughter club or start your own