Hard days happen. Hell, at a start-up, hard weeks and hard months happen. But no matter what type of week you’re having, if there aren’t moments at work that make you laugh, you should evaluate if you’re in the right place. When you live every day with an expected level of uncertainty, it’s important to find humor with your coworkers and customers.
Laughing Lightens the Mood
According to Psychology Today, “Research…has shown that laughter reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine; increases health-enhancing hormones (such as endorphins), neurotransmitters, and infection-fighting antibodies; and improves blood flow to the heart — all resulting in greater relaxation and resistance to disease, as well as improved mood and positive outlook.” So if you aren’t laughing at work, your job is literally killing you.
Besides, if you find that you don’t have reasons to laugh at work, what does that say about your working environment? Do people take themselves so seriously that there is no room for joke-cracking in a meeting? Have times become so dire that it would feel uncomfortable if you were caught giggling in the halls with a colleague. And if laughter has shown to improve mood and positive outlook, then when work is becoming stressful laughter can actually be the best medicine.
An Abundance of Humor
At Merit, there is no shortage of humor. Twice a week we sing a made-up song before we eat together. It’s impossible not to laugh at how awful we sound, and that mutual feeling brings us closer. Humor finds its way into most meetings too. It’s nice to work with people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company and want to see people smile. I’ve worked places that didn’t have that type of friendship and laughter in the office, but I won’t do that again.
Count your laughs
A study by Nicholas A. Kuiper and Rod A. Martin (1999) estimated that adults laugh an average of 17.5 times per day. They found that number to be strongly correlated to the number of social interactions one has. So if you spend 50% of your waking hours in the office and you aren’t getting a healthy dose of 8–10 good laughs a day, you may be feeling isolated and unhappy. If that is the case, I urge you to make a change.
For more information on the importance of being happy at work and additional strategies for achieving it, I recommend picking up a copy of “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.
Ps. Did you hear about the guy that had his entire left side cut off? …He’s all-right now :P