Thursday, February 7, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Humor is FUNdamental for Living

The Top Ten Reasons Humor is FUNdamental for Living
By Mary Kay Morrison, Humor Quest

Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.

Humor is just the fertilizer needed to nurture stressed and anxious folks as they cope with the cognitive/technological revolution that is shaping the 21st century.  A review of neuroscience research indicates that healthy and positive humor can have a significant impact on lifestyle.  The intentional cultivation of humor practice nourishes our energy (humergy) and can have a powerful impact on our life.   Here are the top ten reasons that people purposefully choose humor as an essential strategy for optimal well-being: 

  1. Humor plants memories. Powerful emotions are at the root of long-term memory.  Think about your strongest memory of early elementary school. Chances are that this memory is linked to a strong emotional experience—either positive or negative.   When the memory goes-forget it!   
9.   Humor grows coping skills.   Humor has often been used as a survival technique for prisoners of war.  Most of us are trying to survive the constant change of new technologies. Just trying to figure out how to operate our phones can be stressful.  Some research indicates that laughter increases adrenaline, oxygen flow, and pulse rate. After experiencing laughter, most people report feeling relaxed and calm.   No sense being pessimistic, it wouldn’t work anyway!
  1. Humor cultivates energy and engagement. Purposeful games, directed play and physical activity all promote humor and learning.  The research on the benefits of movement and learning supports the idea that play and laughter increase the oxygen levels and energy that are critical for well-being. Energizer Bunny Arrested; Charged With Battery!
  1. Humor captures and retains attention.  Laughter and surprise can hook even the most reluctant learner.  Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning. The brain cannot learn if it is not attending. Humor generates the unexpected, which alerts the attentional center of the brain and increases the likelihood of information recall.  Lost In Thought-It’s Unfamiliar Territory!
  1. Humor neutralizes stress.  Humor will decrease depression, loneliness and anger. The contagious nature of laughter is caused by mirror neurons or “brain cells that become active when an organism is watching an expression or behavior that they themselves can perform.” If you see someone laughing, even if you don’t know the reason for the laughter, you will probably laugh anyway. Laughter is contagious. Catch it! Spread it!  He Who Laughs-Lasts! 
  1. Humor enhances relationships. They may not remember what you said, but they will remember your sense of humor and how they felt when they were with you.  Build a Humor Haven in your workplace or your home filled with joke, riddle and humorous books. Make time for play. Fill your life with things that bring you smiles, including clown noses, squish balls, games/ puzzles.  What would Scooby do?
  1. Humor nurtures creativity. The employment market has transitioned from agriculture and manufacturing jobs to positions requiring ingenuity and inventiveness. Humor promotes creativity and critical thinking skills.  Often humor comes from unconnected, random thoughts.  Grow creativity through laughter yoga, telling funny stories or playing games.  Do Not Disturb, I am Disturbed Enough Already!
  1. Humor facilitates communication. Humor is a great way to build relationships with others.  Understanding your humor style will assist your humor practice.  Humor is a social lubricant.  It has the power to generate a culture of trust in your organization.  If you understand and nurture a constructive humor style, it will positively impact your ability to communicate. Humorous interaction between coworkers encourages a healthy, productive work environment.  A Closed Mouth Gathers No Foot!
  1. Humor supports the change process. We are faced with change on a daily basis. When you can laugh about unexpected challenges or even your own health issues, you know you will survive and even thrive.   A great strategy is to create a top ten list of “What’s So Funny” about the change or challenge.    Change is good-you go first!

And now for the number one reason to laugh frequently and often…

  1.  Humor Is FREE and FUN.  Living well includes humor and joy. The current fast pace of many life styles can bury a sense of humor. Dig around for humor resources to share with your friends and colleagues.   Do not let anything rob you of your passion for bringing joy to your life.  I want to live forever- so far so good!

Nurture your sense of humor, by spending time in developing and growing your humor practice.   Consider keeping a humor journal, spending time with colleagues who make you laugh, and purposefully including humor in every lesson everyday. Carefully cultivate your humor being to fully share the abundance of joyful living Remember humor is a fundamental factor in the cognitive/technological revolution that needs to shape 21st century education. 

Never take life too seriously- you won’t get out alive.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Humorphobia and Humordoomers

Humorphobia is the fear of fun, laughter, and humor. Humorphobia exists as a transparent thread often woven into the fabric of our lives.  Most leaders are passionate about creating a happy work environment, yet are hampered by unspoken negative belief systems that permeate our organizations.

Have you heard statements like this in your workplace?

  • We need to be professional here. What will the public think if we are having fun and laughing?
  • We cannot measure humor. It’s “soft data” and not meaningful in the workplace. We only operate from solid research.
  • We don’t have time for fun and games. Let’s just get this meeting over with.
  • I don’t do “touchy feely.”
  • I’ve tried humor before and it didn’t work!

The belief systems behind humorphobia are deep rooted fears that include'
  • Fear of not having time for humor because of accountability expectations
  • Fear of being perceived as silly, unproductive, an airhead, and unprofessional
  • Fear of losing “control”  
  • Fear of inadequacy or inability to tell a joke coupled with inexperience in the use of humor (because humor is not taught or modeled in most training programs)
  • Fear of punishment or retaliation in an environment that is hostile or unaccustomed to humor
  • Fear of being made fun of or being the brunt of jokes
  • Humorphobia is often barely perceptible, but has a tremendous impact on humor practice. The fears that generate humorphobia create substantial barriers for creating and sustaining humergy.
Humorphobia breeds humordoomers. Humorphobia impacts both the administrator and employee by undermining confidence, stifling creativity, and sabotaging humor practice. Working long and hard seems to be the societal norm for proving commitment and effectiveness. Time is a precious commodity and the increased demands require employers to make every minute count.

A humordoomer is a person who consistently uses negative humor to control and manipulate others. Humorphobia breeds humordoomers, skilled crafters who use subtle techniques to suppress humor in the workplace. Humordoomers are usually unhappy individuals stressed by the dual demands of accountability and limited time constraints; they’re pessimistic leeches that can suck the humergy right out of you. Grown in a petri dish of fear and anger, these folks are threatened by joyful energy and enthusiasm. They often use humor to manipulate others and to maintain a level of control of their world. Their negative humor reflects their unhappy immersion in the confining straits of a workaholic world. Often their techniques are so woven into the fabric of a culture that not only are they unaware of their own webbing effect, their unsuspecting prey are oblivious as well.

Humorphobia and humordoomers create a toxic work environment.   

What strategies do you use to combat these types of beliefs and behaviors?  I have a chapter devoted to this topic in my book, "Using Humor to Maximize Living", however I know creative and caring people have workable ideas.  Would love to hear what you think!