“Laughter is the best medicine”, the old saying goes, and science is repeatedly showing that it’s true.
Research suggests that one of the qualities that resilient people tend to have, that non-resilient people don’t, is a good sense of humour. The more resilient you are, the less often you’ll experience stress and the quicker you’ll bounce back from setbacks.
When you think about it, this makes sense. Consider someone at work who you think of as being very resilient. How might he or she respond to an email delivering news of unexpected organisational change?
Laughter and eye-rolling is a common response in the resilient person (‘here we go again!’). Finding a light-hearted view of a situation in this way is less common in someone who is less resilient.
Humour and laughter are great stress outlets. Laughter triggers the release of serotonin in the brain – one of the “feel good” hormones.
Of course, not everyone finds humour in the same things. There are different cultural perspectives and clear personal differences in what we find funny. Some people find slapstick humour hilarious; some people prefer sarcasm or wit.
It’s important to think about what you find funny, and then try to bring more of this type of humour to your life.
According to psychologist and humour expert, Paul McGhee, humour can be developed. Even if you think of yourself as a ‘serious’ kind of person, it’s a good idea to work on developing a good sense of humour.
As with many strategies for building wellbeing and resilience, the important thing is to cultivate your sense of humour when times are calm, so it becomes a habit that you can draw on in times of stress.
This means taking some time both at work and after work to find ways to bring humour, laughter and amusement to your life.
The great thing is that laughter brings all its beneficial effects even if you have to force yourself to do it. It doesn’t have to come naturally.
The act of laughing can be extremely powerful, because just as our bodies take cues from our minds, our minds take cues from our bodies. When we laugh, our minds can actually be tricked into thinking we see the funny side to something.
Next time you’re in a stressful situation at work, try to see a funny side. Try a quiet chuckle or even laughing out loud.
Can you use a good dose of laughter every now and then? Of course you can! So what you are waiting for?