A Little Laughter Decreases Stress And Improves Productivity
Last year, at the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic in March and April, may have been one of the most stressful times in business. The entire world as we knew it came to what seemed like a screeching halt. People were concerned for their jobs, their families and their future, not to mention their health.
Many companies were forced to adapt to new ways of doing business, which they hoped would be temporary. Here we are, a year and a half later, and while we seem to be back to some sense of normalcy, it’s still quite different. People are still stressed, and as a result, productivity can suffer.
One of the ways we managed the stress in our office, or should I say out of the office as we all worked remotely during the Covid-19 quarantine, was through humor. We assigned a new job title, director of HR, to one of our team members. HR did not mean Human Resources. For this job, it meant Humor Resources.
Each day we had a Zoom meeting, and the director of HR’s job was to find a short YouTube video that would make us all laugh. Yes, it was fun. It relieved tension and stress. And yes, we all looked forward to it.
The reason I bring all of this up is that I recently connected with Paul Osincup from Delivering Happiness. He provides Delivering Happiness workshops and hosts its podcast. As a positivity strategist, his mission is to create workplace happiness. He does this with his humorous and inspirational style of teaching and speaking.
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According to Osincup, “Humor is the new mindfulness.” You can actually train your brain to see and experience humor more often. Humor creates a chemical reaction in the brain that can elevate one’s mood. The research proves that happier employees are more productive. When you find something funny, your brain is, as Osincup says, “Flooded with a dose of happiness.” And dose is an acronym, as in D.O.S.E.
· D is for Dopamine.
· O is for Oxytocin.
· S is for Serotonin.
· E is for Endorphins.
And you don’t have to be naturally funny to become good at using humor. Osincup says, “Humor is not a talent. Humor is a habit.” And he suggests the first step is to self-train your brain toward a funny focus. You become intentional and aware of finding humor. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Here are his five suggestions (followed by my comments) for putting Humor Habits in your life:
1. Curate a personal comedy collection. Thanks to social media, all you have to do is go to YouTube and you’ll find plenty of humor. Once you find a video that makes you laugh, click the like button. If it’s someone who posts a lot of humor, subscribe to the channel.
2. Share your humor with a friend. Find a friend or colleague with whom you can share your newfound humor on social media. Block a few minutes on your calendar to do so. Research shows that even just the anticipation of humor can help to decrease stress.
3. Prime the pump for positivity. Don’t just read the business sections of the newspaper and watch the news. Expand to publications and shows—and even YouTube videos—that include humor and content that will make you smile and laugh. In other words, be purposeful about finding humor.
4. Write it down. This is an exercise that may cause a little “brain pain” at first. Osincup suggests writing down at least three funny things every day. I call this becoming “humor aware.” The research has found that people who write down at least three funny and/or amusing things that they noticed each day for just one week can increase happiness and decrease depression symptoms for up to six months.
5. Take a funny break. Schedule a specific time to take a break and watch a funny video. You can find the humorous video yourself, or this is a perfect way to utilize an appointed director of HR (Humor Resources) that I mentioned earlier in this article. And why do this alone? Include some others on your team. Everyone deserves the rewards and benefits of humor.
Focus on the fun and funny things in life. It’s easy to find things to worry about, but if you train yourself to look for things that make you laugh, you’ll find them too. And be sure to share them when you do!