We may take the idea of laughter lightly, but it's as beneficial to our health, well-being, and social influence as good hygiene. Laughter is in our DNA; it's a universal language, recognizable by all cultures due to its resulting facial expressions, body language, and its vowel-heavy sounds (ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee). Laughter provides many health benefits, unites us, creates social bonding, and, as shown in more than one study, enhances morale, resilience, and effectiveness--all conducive and advantageous to a happy, productive work environment, and to your success.
Stress is no stranger to entrepreneurs. We know that laughter combats stress, as does a simple smile. I view laughter as a magic eraser pressed upon a chalkboard filled edge to edge with notes on the problems we face. Once the slate is wiped clean, the options and solutions present themselves more clearly. There is overwhelming evidence pointing to the physical and emotional benefits of laughter. Entrepreneurs must also consider the benefits that lead to success and charismatic leadership.
Laughter and leadership.
Leaders can creatively use laughter as a powerful form of communication, a tool to soften the blow of change, a way to enhance collaboration and camaraderie within teams, and a means to raise your likability index.
Take Southwest Airlines founder and original CEO, Herb Kelleher, for instance. His beloved and highly effective company culture was built upon humor and laughter, which led to decades of record earnings and profitability.
CEOs who distance themselves from humor convey a social distancing. Not long ago, the serious, untouchable CEO was the image of success. Today, with the vastly different needs and expectations of younger generations (and certainly a greater awareness and appreciation of emotional intelligence), the CEO plays a new role in the company culture. A good sense of humor factors in greatly.
The importance of laughter and socialization for the solo business owner.
Believe me, I know how easily isolation becomes a part of the norm for solo business owners. Before long, you find yourself looking forward to your Friday night date with YouTube, or worse, your sales funnels. It's a sad state of being.
Whether introverted or extroverted, we are, by nature, social beings. The lack of social interaction and laughter often results in depression and reduced odds of success. In one study, the participants who "never or almost never laughed" had a 21 percent higher risk of heart disease than those who laughed daily. The prevalence of stroke shows a 60 percent increase in those who rarely laugh. It's time to get out of the office and into your social circles. The longer you indulge in late night chocolate fests accompanied by your P&L's, the more difficult you'll find it to find your social side.
Don't have a great sense of humor?
Not to worry, you don't have to be a comedian to provide others with or engage in a good laugh. This 10-year study published in Psychology Today revealed that only 10 to 20 percent of the laughter episodes witnessed within the study were brought about by jokes. This suggests that the critical stimulus for laughter is another person's behavior, facial expressions, and body language, not a good punchline.
How to introduce more laughter into your day.
It's easy, begin by planting a smile on your face many times a day, even if you are alone. Upon waking each morning, I intentionally smile before I allow any thoughts to creep into my mind. This simple act makes a remarkable difference in my emotional readiness and response to a new day. Optimism comes more naturally when I begin with a smile. It's also a wonderful way of diverting my tendency to immediately focus on the stressors of my to-do list and the day's schedule.
Basically, fake it until you make it. Your body and brain can't distinguish between your fake smiles and laughter and those that come from humor or a funny exchange. The physical and emotional benefits are exactly the same.
With all of that said, I leave you with this:
What do you call security guards working outside Samsung shops?
Guardians of the Galaxy.
Enjoy your day!