Earlier this week my friend Emma put up a post on Facebook saying that when we are children we laugh 400x a day. And now as adults, we laugh an average of 15x a day.
This got me thinking.
Why is this?
And why is laughter so important?
And how can we connect through laughing?
Charlie Chaplin said “A day without laughter is a day wasted” and I have to agree.
Quite simply, laughter makes us feel good.
It improves our physical health and it can definitely improve our mental health. When I was diagnosed with mild depression in my late 20s, one of the recommendations from my doctor was to go to a comedy club for a couple of hours of laughter with some friends. He also told me to watch comedy on TV or DVD for at least 30 minutes a day so I would laugh more. His tactics definitely worked for me – it’s very hard to feel sad or anxious or negative in those moments when you’re laughing.How can we connect more through laughter? It improves our mental and physical health, and also boosts engagement, making us more productive at work. Click To Tweet
I feel really lucky because I live with a man who makes me laugh all the time. Often because he is doing ridiculous things. Or pointing out silly things I’m doing. I must admit I do sometimes have a Pavlov reaction – when I see him I giggle. He hasn’t developed a complex yet, which after 15 years together is a little surprising!
The other creatures in my life who make me laugh all the time are our chickens. Yes, they are crazy, but pets are great for making us laugh – most animals, whether it’s cats, dogs, chickens or whatever you have, do silly and funny things. Chickens are especially good at this – it’s really difficult not to laugh when I see them running towards me after they have heard the click of the back door.
Why do we need to laugh more at work and what can we do to encourage more laughter at work?
An article by Alison Beard, in Harvard Business Review, reminds us that the workplace needs laughter. According to research from Wharton, MIT, and London Business School, laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.
Laughter at work also enhances morale, resilience, and effectiveness—which leads to a happier, more productive work environment.
Research has even found that after watching a comedy clip, employees were 10% more productive than their counterparts.
Leaders who use laughter as a form of communication, are more connectable than those who don’t. CEOs such as SouthWest Airlines Herb Kelleher and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson are often seen laughing. They have also built highly successful and profitable companies based on laughter and humour.
Basically we all need to laugh more at work.
But how do we do this?
We can start by smiling more. Smile at your colleagues, smile when you’re talking on the phone.
Do some fun activities together
- have a lunchtime dance-off to cheesy 80s music
- have a hula hoop contest
- start team meetings with a dad-joke
- at lunchtime play short episodes of comedy tv series in the lunchroom
- On International Talk Like a Pirate Day (which is next week on 19 Sept) give everyone in the office a Pirate Name and only call them by that on that day
- Invite someone in to lead your team in Laughing Yoga – yes, it’s a thing!
There are loads of options – let me know what you choose.
Executive Coach, author and podcaster Peter Bregman, reckons we’re not laughing as much as we used to because we’re distracted. And when we’re distracted, we don’t laugh. So we also need to think about that.
In my last minisode, episode 8, I talked about how much our phones cause us to be distracted, and how we should create a tech plan so we use them less automatically and more intentionally. It seems that another reason we should put our phones down is so we can laugh more with the people we’re with. Or even laugh more when we’re watching something on Netflix – who else watches Netflix with a second screen in their hands.
Peter suggests that we should create a laughter metric and set a personal challenge to increase the number of times we laugh in a day. Count how many times you genuinely laugh each day and then try and double that. And why not count each time you make someone else laugh and then try and increase that too.
Mostly, however, we need to laugh more because laughter makes the world a better place.
Maurice Chevalier said “you don’t stop laughing because you grow older, you grow older because you stop laughing.”
What are you going to do this week to increase your laughter?
I’d love to know. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #thisconnectedlife and tagging me @melkettle
Or you can email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
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