Throughout history, humor has been recognized for its healing qualities. The proverb proclaims what modern science has confirmed: “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” Medieval professor of surgery, Henri de Mondeville, recommended mirth as an aid to recovery from surgery. More recently, a growing body of scientific evidence has reinforced the physiological, mental, emotional, and social advantages of humor.
Laughter has been called “inner jogging” because it stimulates the cardiovascular system, increases the oxygen throughout one’s bloodstream, exercises facial muscles, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen. A study by Stanford University showed a good belly laugh can give you health benefits equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. While laughter itself is delightfully stimulating, the residual effects create a temporary reduction in blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and muscle tension.
Laughter enhances creativity and problem solving, reduces stress, eases strained relationships, and promotes mental health. It may even strengthen the immune system and contribute to longevity. In fact, University of Chicago studies show a great sense of humor can add an additional 8 years to your life!
Exercising your sense of humor doesn’t mean that you need to tell jokes all the time or be the life of the party. Just be open to the comic relief that daily life provides and cultivate the ability to not take yourself too seriously.
The French novelist, Colette, said, “Total absence of humor renders life impossible.” Being purposeful about using appropriate humor in the workplace not only affords employee morale and health benefits, it also makes customers’ experiences memorable—and that certainly beats the alternative!