Laughter is a Stress Buster

By | 2017-01-13T13:42:19+00:00 August 2nd, 2010|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: |Comments Off on Laughter is a Stress Buster

“If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it” — Bill Cosby

Numerous studies conclude that laughter boosts the immune system, releases endorphins that lower blood pressure, and promotes a sense of health and well being. A familiar Proverb claims, “A merry heart is good like medicine” (Prov. 15:13). Yogic laughter is one of the easiest forms of meditation and an economic means to reduce stress. Dr. Madan Kataria known as the “merry medicine man from India, “claims children laugh about 300 times a day while adults laugh about 15 times a day. Dr. Kataria promotes laughter in the workplace by organizing Laughter Clubs. There are resources from Dr. Kataria, including a Discovery Channel YouTube video that is quite funny.

I maintain that an alternative to a formalized laughter club is finding a friend who has the natural uninhibited gift of laughter. Fortunately, I have such a friend in the workplace. My friend, and colleague, Michele, quickly sees humor in everyday situations. Don’t misunderstand. Michele is no silly, bubble-head who goes around cracking jokes all the time. Neither is she the type of person who would ever laugh at another’s expense.

On the contrary, Michele is known for her organizational skills, works hard to exceed expectations, and is a realist. Yet, she discovers humor in ordinary silly stuff that could pass unnoticed or even irritate others. Michele controls everyday circumstances with humor. Her humor deflates awkward situations much like releasing stress-filled air from a tightly inflated balloon. She punctuates the atmosphere with frequent belly-shaking, audible laughter.

I laugh more when I am around Michele. Other colleagues also smile and laugh when they are around Michele. Laughter is contagious and spreads quickly. Michele recently celebrated her birthday. A colleague used liquid chalk to write, “Happy Birthday” on Michele’s office window. Two weeks later, the “Happy Birthday” message was still on the window. I inquired when the celebration was going to end. Before she could answer, a person walked into Michele’s office and said, “Happy Birthday!” Michele responded, “Thank you very much,” then looked at me and remarked, “Why should it end”? A few days later, another colleague took the liberty to erase “Birthday” but left “Happy” on Michele’s window. It fits!

Perhaps, some are thinking, “I just don’t have that much to be happy about.” Allow me
to provide further insight into my friend, Michele. During this past year, Michele’s husband of
29 years died. Her financial situation has changed, and she is seeking to move from
part-time to full-time employment. As if that isn’t enough, Michele’s mother just moved into Michele’s home to receive care she can no longer provide for herself. While Michele has
responded with the full range of emotions appropriate to each situation life has dealt her, she
has not lost her gift of laughter. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl says, “I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. Laughing lifted me momentarily…out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable…survivable.”

I conclude that the heavier, more stressful the circumstances, the more people need laughter to balance emotions and release stress. I’m motivated by the “Happy” written in liquid chalk that is still on Michele’s office window, a month after her birthday. If colleagues wrote a descriptive word on my window, I wonder what word they might use. Each person has the potential for increasing stress or becoming a stress buster. Laughter is one way to lighten the load.

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