| One night
at dinner, Morgan said to his wife, "I have to admit I'm feeling
much better since my operation, but I can't figure out why I got
this big bump on my head."
"Oh, that!" said his spouse. "In the
middle of your operation they suddenly ran out of ether."
Stress seems to be part of everybody's life. The United
Nations International Labor Organization recently issued a report that
states, "Stress has become one of the most serious health issues of
There are many ways to contend with stress -- everything from jogging
and paddle ball to biofeedback, aerobics and herbal tea. All these methods
work to some extent but they take up precious time. The quickest, most
effective way to beat stress is literally to laugh it off.
the idea of overdrawing your checking account?"
"Oh, it's all right, dear. I just
sent them a check to cover the amount I overdrew."
Why use humor in daily life? The answer is simple.
You get immediate results. It takes no special talent or ability, no
physical prowess or skill, you aren't required to have a masters degree
or a license, it makes you feel good, it's fun, fat-free and you don't
A good laugh may be good for the heart.
A team of Maryland medical researchers found that people with heart
disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in humorous situations
than those with healthy hearts.
"The old saying that laughter is the best medicine definitely appears
to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller,
director of the Center of Preventive Cardiology at the University of
Maryland Medical Center.
The healthful benefits of laughter are cause for great celebration among
psychologists. They now recognize the therapeutic value of humor in
the workplace and have begun to prescribe it for their patients.
Daniel Goleman, writing in The New York Times, states that "humor
can aid problem-solving as well as contribute to creativity in the business
The Times article quotes David Abramis, a psychologist in the School
of Business Administration at California State University (Long Beach)
on his survey of 382 people from a wide variety of workplaces. Abramis
found that "those who felt their work was fun performed better and got
along better with co-workers than did those who were satisfied with
their jobs but did not see them as fun."
The knowledge that it is possible to cope more easily with stress by
emphasizing humor has already had a profound effect on the international
Now companies are profiting from lessons in laughter. Corporations are
hiring humor consultants for training sessions to help execs loosen
up, so they can take their work seriously without taking themselves
Mark H. McCormick, the premier sports business manager and author of
What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School, writes
"Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business
tension. If you can point out what is humorous or absurd about a situation
or confrontation, you will be guaranteed the upper hand."
Important meetings, presentations or job interviews can become highly
stressful confrontations. Loosening up with a couple of chuckles beforehand
sharpens your concentration and pleasantly prepares you for a positive
and successful approach.
"Laughter is the best way to start a meeting," states McCormick. "You
don't need to have them falling in the aisles. But a mildly pleasant
remark at the outset will create the right atmosphere for everything
| The Chairman
of the Board of Directors of a Chicago charity called the monthly
meeting to order. "I have rather a stressful order of business,"
he announced. "We're looking for a treasurer."
"But we appointed a treasurer just six months ago."
"Yes," said the Chairman. "That's
the treasurer we're looking for."
Using humor to relieve stress is simple -- the benefits
are simply wonderful. Follow these easy steps and you'll be on your
way to defusing anxiety and frustration.
1. TAKE A HUMOR BREAK.
Keep a book of jokes or cartoons handy. If it makes good sense to keep
a first-aid kit for medical emergencies why not a mirth-kit to deal
with stressful situations?
Ten minutes before a meeting or potentially stressful situation read
some funny stories. A smile or chuckle will relax and better prepare
you for a confrontation. A good laugh makes you feel good and allows
you to think more clearly and quickly.
Humor makes you more efficient -- it allows you to function better.
2. LAUGH AT YOURSELF.
Dr. Meyer Friedman in his book, Treating Type A Behavior and Your
Heart, points out that being able to laugh at yourself is healthy.
Dr. Friedman's research in heart disease leads him to conclude: "The
person most effectively protecting himself against the continued progress
of coronary artery disease is the person willing to see himself and
his affairs as ludicrously unimportant in the planetary scheme of things."
When you make fun of yourself it takes the sting out of what other people
It is not necessary to constantly put yourself down in the workplace,
but self-deprecating humor shows that you're human. It reveals that
you are so self-assured, you can readily poke fun at yourself. And guess
what? People like you more!
Humor keeps you from taking yourself too seriously and makes dealing
with others easier.
3. CREATE A FUNNY FILE ALL YOUR OWN.
Find out what makes you laugh and nurture it. Each of us has an individual
sense of humor. There are many life experiences we can look back on
and laugh about uproariously. Childhood incidents, school situations,
even marriage mishaps.
Remember the embarrassing moments that were so painful when they happened
but are funny now when you think about them.
The next step in developing your funny file is to put together a humor
library. Gather up your favorite cartoons, comedy records, joke books,
funny video films -- anything that will bring a smile to your lips.
Bookmark your favorite humorous websites. (See below for links to
some amusing Websites.)
Marsha Sinetar, organizational psychologist and author of Do What
You Love, mentions an executive who has a file folder reserved for
cartoons, jokes and other humorous anecdotes.
"I call this my mental health file," he explains. "When I'm down in
the dumps, bored, uninspired, I flip through this folder. I'm always
amazed at how a few laughs pick me up and change my perspective. It's
interesting how a humor file can reach your inner spirit and remind
you that the world's not such a bad place after all."
Keeping your own humor collection provides comic relief when you
need it most.
Medical science has made us aware that there is now another way to cope
with stress. People who may need a cure for one of the most depressing
and debilitating maladies of our times can now access the newest and
best prescription: Humor.
Copyright © 2006 by Larry Wilde
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