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The Many Benefits of Laughter Can Be Good for Business

Updated on July 1, 2011
Doesn't Laughter Yoga look like fun?!
Doesn't Laughter Yoga look like fun?!

Be Thankful for Laughter!

Laughter can be profound. I am not entirely sure that only humans laugh, but philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter." Less profound, perhaps, but more pointed are the words of Danish comedian Victor Borge who said, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." Personally, I am more inclined to agree with comedian/filmmaker Woody Allen who says, "I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose." Now, that makes me laugh!

A laugh is a primitive and primal release, not unlike a yawn. Whatever provokes the laugh, the release is spontaneous and stress relieving. You would laugh at the research that tries to determine where the brain's laugh center is or the work of existential philosophers who find laughter is the human response to existential loneliness and mortality. Talk about over-thinking something so good for us!

Laughter is good for our health

Let's begin with the fact that laughter is good for us. If you need to know why, consider this:

Laughter does increase blood flow.

Laughter reduces stress because it releases hormones that reduce adrenaline.

Laughter exercises muscles and as a result improves respiration.

Laughter reduces pain by distracting the party from the pain.

Laughter improves cardiac exercise and, thereby, reduces blood pressure.

There is even some evidence that laughter helps fight cancer by increasing cells that fight tumors.

Laughter is good for us in other ways

Less measurable are other results of a regular hearty laugh:

Laughter creates a positive frame of mind. It provides an alternative to stress and guilt, reducing them to simple distractions.

Laughter is contagious. When you laugh, others do, too. When you laugh loud, others will laugh loud, and when you laugh long, they will instinctively follow your lead. Friends like a laugher, in part, because the lead laugher helps reduce their stress as well.

Laughter will change the way you look at things. It may not solve problems, but it will put them in perspective. Laughter will reduce the threat and challenge by slighting the fear.

Laughter improves your self-image and the way you are perceived by others. A frequent hearty laugh is a sign of someone in control of things, someone with confidence enough to keep the wolves from the door, the barbarians from the gate, someone who scoffs at the fight or flight instinct. (Of course, a weak laugh, a titter or giggle, is not going to pull this off.)

Laughter is free!

The business of laughter

This no-cost feature is among the reasons businesses, organizations, and institutions are pursuing laughs. Consider the return on investment in the following results of laughter:

Laughter improves general health, a major cost concern for business.

Laughter improves a "can do" optimism, making each laugher more likeable.

Laughter increases communication and self-confidence, connecting and binding co-workers.

Laughter pushes criticism aside and diffuses conflict.

Laughter stimulates the part of the brain responsible for creativity.

Laughter is cost-effective, requiring no equipment, little time, and fast spreading results

So, where are we going with this "laughter bonanza?" Businesses large and small are alert to thevalue of laughter.

Some businesses are appointing "humor directors" with the corporate wide personnel responsibility for making people laugh - and reducing the cost of human resources and human capital. There are a number of strategies they can follow on the large scale and some you can implement on the small scale.

Calendar a laugh time and keep this appointment. Set 15 minutes aside, perhaps after lunch when you have a sugar rush or around 2:00 PM when your blood sugar dips. Laugh out loud, where it is appropriate, and maybe join your spouse on the phone, or your child or pet in the yard.

Make humor part of your presentations. Now, the record shows that audiences are not very responsive to jokes in the classic format or set-up and punch line. However, everyone is attentive to an anecdote, especially one that is a little self-deprecating or includes key members of the audience.

Tip: (Also, remember that most "jokes" are told at someone's expense. It is in the nature of a joke to be offensive. So, avoid those types of jokes!)

Use humorous videos or clips from sources like YouTube. The clips should be funny to all. They need to have a clear tie to the subject; otherwise, they are recognized and dismissed as gratuitous.

Share cartoons if they are appropriate and clearly related to the topic. In small groups, you can solicit laughter in the feedback. In large groups, you may flash a series of cartoons in rapid sequence. I have had luck using cartoons without captions and asking the group to fill in the blank.

Laughter can be provoked in social settings without usual resort to humor. Toss a Frisbee around the office, play a modified game of tag, hold a treasure hunt. Host contests for baby pictures, prom pictures, and/or worst bridesmaid dress.

Introduce a class in laughter yoga. Laughter yoga is a worldwide movement with lofty goals of world peace and human connection. But, putting that aside, it has proven very effective in business settings. The idea here is to work with groups to approach laughter as a group exercise. It plays on eye contact and the idea that there is a 6 year old inside each of us. The plan is to initiate fake laughter, because the body and brain do not discriminate between fake and real, and bank on the contagion in laughter to spread into real laughs. The slight disadvantage in this is that it requires trained and certified leaders.

In short, there is no downside to laughter. Just think of the alternative! Be thankful for laughter and use it more frequently; it will not run out.


Submit a Comment

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

    I'm a huge fan of laughter- I hope more people read your Hub and catch on!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Terrific hub. I certainly agree that laughter is so healthy. If adults could laugh as often as children we would all be better off.

  • Rastamermaid profile image

    Rastamermaid 6 years ago from Universe

    Great hub voted up!

    Laughter is good for the soul!

    Thanks for sharing,it's easy to forget that something so simple can bring so much joy!


  • Paradise7 profile image

    Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

    Good hub!! I love comedy, I love funny movies. I really do always feel better after watching a funny movie.

    One weird thing is, I don't really have a good head for jokes. I'd love to share some of the delight I feel from the funny movies with other people, but every time I try to share humour, it just falls a little flat.

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

    Because laughter improves general health, it make you look younger and reduces stress lines.

    Love this hub, any thing for a laugh, and for good laughs you should check out the humor categories, we have some good fun there by great hubbers.

  • Sinea Pies profile image

    Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    The Bible says that "laughter doeth good like a medicine"! It does!

  • rsusan profile image

    Rika Susan 6 years ago from South Africa

    This is a very important topic. We don't laugh nearly enough! We have to actively search for reasons to laugh more each and every day. I don't know if this is true, but I have read that kids laugh between 300 and 400 times a day, while adults laugh only about 15 to 20 times a day! We have to rediscover that kid in us that can find a ton of reasons to laugh each day.

  • ChristinS profile image

    Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

    great hub - laughter is indeed the best medicine as they say. I find it fascinating that the actual act of laughing is what reduces blood pressure - who knew? :)

  • shaft007 profile image

    shaft007 6 years ago

    very good hub