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THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMOUR RESOURCES © 2001
Well….every business has it’s own HR Department does it not?
The Health in Humour
Laughter is a great medicine. Like intense exercise, laughter increases brain levels of serotonin and endorphins that can calm and relax the mind. Every year there is more evidence that your thoughts, moods, emotions and belief systems have a fundamental impact on the body’s basic health and healing mechanisms. Candice Pert in her book, The Molecules of Emotions, found that emotions are registered and stored in the body in the form of chemical messages. Better understanding the interaction between emotions and these chemical messages are the key to maintaining a strong health connection between the body and the mind. It is through the emotions you experience in connection with your thoughts and daily attitudes, through the neurochemical changes that accompany these emotions, that your mind acquires the power to influence whether you get sick or remain well.
Reduction of stress hormones
When you’re under stress, your body undergoes a series of hormonal and other body changes which make up the “fight or flight” response. Even though there’s no physical threat to your life, your body reacts as if there were. If you’re under stress day after day, this preparation for a vigorous physical response (which never happens) begins to pose a threat to your health. Anything, which can reduce the level of stress hormones in the blood on a regular basis, helps reduce this threat. The limited research on stress related hormones and humour has shown that laughter reduces at least four neuroendocrine hormones associated with the stress response including adrenaline, cortisol, dopac and growth hormone.
Norman Cousins drew the attention of the medical community to the pain reducing power of humour in his book, Anatomy of an Illness. Norman had a spinal disease that left him in constant pain. But he quickly discovered while watching comedy films that belly laughter eased his pain. In his last book, Head First, The Biology of Hope, he noted that 10 minutes of belly laughter would give him two hours of pain free sleep. Over a dozen studies have now confirmed that humour does have the power to reduce pain in many patients. “ The chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion. And that says to me that we’d better pay more attention to emotions with respect to our health. “ Candice Pert- Molecules of Emotion
Even more interesting is the fact that even if you pretend laughing or act happiness, your body produces happy chemicals. The brain does not know the difference!
Types of Humour and Workplace Application
Tom Hopkins, US speaker and perhaps the worlds best sales trainer says you can learn to laugh even if you have a Ph D in pessimism! What needs to happen is the replacement of the strong silent type for a few sense of humour types! Understanding the different forms and types of humour helped Digital Equipment Co in Colorado boost productivity by 15% and halved the number of sick days over a 12 month period. You too can experience the same sorts of benefits in your business.
Humour comes to us in many forms.
Satire, irony, sarcasm, wit, parody, farce, surrealism and play.
Satire :- exposes, mocks, sends up and attacks the pompous, hypocritical and immoral. It also exposes negative habits. The painful realities of life are combined with pleasurable experiences.
Irony :- on the other hand is a remark that is the exact opposite to what you are thinking ! Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit “so they say”, is based on ridicule and vindictiveness and quickly builds communication barriers.
Wit :- is perhaps the most admired and sought after form. Based on intellect it is a brilliant cognitive association between an idea and an attitude, or a situation and a person. People with a natural wit have very high intelligence. Those with a practised wit have normal intelligence and have consciously trained their humour mind.
Parody :- is another name for spoof, and impersonates and mocks well known writings such as plays and books. The actor John Cleese has perfected this art form in the many training videos he created, which provide a wonderful example of laughing as you learn.
Farce :- is simple. A ridiculous idea is taken as being true, then acted on logically. It includes slapstick and burlesque. Embarrassing moments and bureaucratic bungling are the food of farce.
Surrealism :- happens when you combine outrageous exaggeration, impossible contradictions and zany assumptions. The most improbable are brought together, creating verbal fantasies and brilliant mental images.
Play :- finally and perhaps the most delightful is the notion of play. To be playful and serious at the same time, that is have serious fun, defines the ideal mental state. Play removes uncertainties, allows for errors, cuts through embarrassment, criticism and rejection and opens up the scope for risk taking and creativity.
Maybe you could start sending Amusing Memos periodically, combining these mechanisms with understatement.? Example Staff memo:- Due to competition in the marketplace and because we have a somewhat keen desire to remain in business, we request that somewhere between starting time and quitting time, without excessive infringement on the time devoted to lunch, coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, periodic rests, storytelling and joke time, each employee is to endeavour to find some time that can be reserved and set aside and henceforth be known as the work break.
Or you could create a Jester journal or send Glad Mail. Affirmations express the goodwill people have toward each other or the relationship they would like to have. To be good humoured is to be in the moment, responsive and demonstrate that you have some empathy for the other person. It is about choosing to be positive and looking for positive ways to problem solve and get things done. Humour fosters creativity.
Isn’t it interesting that we will leave the workplace and often pay large sums of money to be amused and entertained “after work” as a means of de-stressing and relaxation. Many amusing and memorable moments can be created at work with minimal budget and set the scene for increased productivity as a result.
President Eisenhower said”. Practice being a creator, participant and benefactor of fun in the workplace. You will be less stressed, and enjoy the relationships and the rewards that humour brings.