10 reasons a sense of humor is no laughing matter

Thursday , March 26, 2015 - 12:00 AM

By BRAD LARSEN
Standard-Examiner contributor

“Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.”

-Dave Barry

Laughter is a lot like the coming of spring. All our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny disposition takes their place. It is an instant vacation that brings joy to one's heart and a smile to one's lips.

In business and in life, a sense of humor is an essential characteristic. Without it we are like a car without shocks, jolted by every pothole. With it we are more likely to succeed and to enjoy the success we have. Plus, as an added bonus, others will like being around us.

It is well known to science that humor brings all sorts of psychological, physical and social benefits. Various experts have pointed out that the high stress levels of many jobs can be significantly relieved by working through anger, resentment, conflict, boredom, etc., with a sense humor.

The best defense against stress and adversity is a habitual sense of humor. Problems at work can seem insurmountable. When circumstances are beyond our control and test our patience, a sense of humor realigns our perspective so that we don’t blow things out of proportion.

In other words, when you are tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually uses water. Throw a little water on those tough situations and douse the anxieties before they spread like wildfire into other areas of your life.

It is important to remember that humor is meant to improve the quality of our lives, and bless others, not to cause harm. A sense of humor sees the fun in everyday experiences. It is more about having fun than it is about being funny.

Here are 10 ways a healthy and positive sense of humor can help you succeed:

1. Makes you resilient. Research shows that laughing at oneself makes one more resilient. People who laugh at themselves make fewer mistakes. When they do make a mistake, they recover quicker, leading to greater success.

2. Expands creativity. Humor helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and see things in new ways. It opens people up to new possibilities and frees their minds to spark new ideas.

3. Increases intelligence. A good sense of humor develops intelligence by using the clever use of words at the right time and in the right places. Like anything else, it necessitates practice.

4. Benefits your health. Laughing offers great health benefits like increasing immunity, lowering stress hormones, releasing anxiety and preventing heart disease. Laughter therapies can help with many diseases and mental illnesses.

5. Makes you likeable. It gets people to root for you. People like folks with a sense of humor. They're more likely to want you to succeed. Your supporters will find you more likeable and your detractors will be more likely to cut you some slack.

6. Puts others at ease. Humor is disarming. It lightens the mood and cuts down on the tension factor that many face with coworkers, employees, customers, vendors, partners, everyone. It shows you don't take yourself too seriously.

7. Builds trust. Humor reveals the authentic person hiding under the professional mask. Studies suggest that people with a sense of humor are viewed as being more trustworthy whether they really are or not.

8. Builds teams. For some reason, when a team laughs and has fun together it facilitates a sense of community and creates a cohesive corporate culture. It also helps to create a sort of communal history, as in, "Remember the time when...”

9. Boosts morale. Humor increases employee retention while reducing turnover because employees look forward to coming to work. Everybody likes working with someone who can laugh and bring a smile to everyone’s face.

10. Enhances productivity. Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a sense of risk taking. All of which leads to greater productivity.

I realize that humor isn't for everyone. It's only for people who really want to enjoy themselves and feel alive. A healthy sense of humor is a sign that deep down one has a pretty good grasp of life and work. It is addictive and infectious. It keeps us united and keeps us going. The more it spreads, the better it is. So, spread a little laughter!

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