At the conclusion of most work days, I suffer from aching face syndrome. Now that I have piqued your curiosity, you must be somewhat interested as to why my face hurts when it is time to go home. In a one word…humor. Our library staff works both diligently and physically hard to make sure library patrons are able to get the information and materials that they want and need. However, we sure do have a good time while we labor. Luckily, that is the kind of environment we have the pleasure to wake up and grind in every day. From an inside joke, discussing the latest Netflix obsession, looking at the lighter side of a stressful situation, figuring out additions and/or improvements to how we serve our patrons and community, or discovering interests we have in common, work is never simply work. We engage in a variety of candid conversations and find the humor in what we do.

In fact, humor is a key concept to overall success in the workplace and a crucial quality for leaders to possess. Humor is a great way to make others feel at ease because you seem more approachable. When you laugh, not only do you feel more relaxed, but you also tend to make those around you feel similarly. When individuals are relaxed, they tend to think clearer, make better decisions, and their creativity improves. According to numerous studies, creativity is highly linked with a sufficient sense of humor. The same studies have found that those who possess a sense of humor can often handle workplace targets and deadlines more productively. 

Having this type of personality can also improve one’s social interactions with others and strengthen professional relationships. Researchers from Finland and the United Kingdom found that social laughter triggers the release of endorphins – often referred to as “feel good hormones” – in brain regions responsible for emotion. Endorphins are peptides that interact with opioid receptors in the brain to help relieve pain and trigger feelings of pleasure. What is more, the study revealed that the more opioid receptors people have in brain regions associated with the processing of emotions, the more they engage in social laughter. Summed up, laughter produces endorphins which makes you feel happy. Therefore, your personality will make you seem more attractive and people will want to conversate with you. Everyone knows the funny guy or gal at work. People tend to gravitate towards them because you know you will enjoy a good laugh in their presence.

Besides finding laughter at work, laughter has an abundance of benefits. It touches upon nearly every facet of our lives. Mark Twain once said that “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.” I would agree that Twain is not wrong and humor is a great thing. In fact, many others agree with me. So much so, that bestowed upon the month of April was the designation of National Humor Month. It was established in April of 1976 by Larry Wilde, an author and humorist. He created this day believing in the therapeutic value of humor and the idea to bring public awareness around this concept. We all realize that no workplace or home is non-stop sunshine and rainbows. Additionally, if 2020 has taught us anything, life can surely throw out some wicked curveballs – the size of baseballs that can make a pretty good dent in whatever gets in its way. However, when a person engages in daily doses of laughter, those baseballs tend to be easier to manage and start to look more like golf balls, possibly even marbles. 

Not only do nearly 90% of men and 81% of women report that a sense of humor is the most important quality in a partner, but laughter is one of the greatest remedies and natural medicines out there for many common conditions including stress, tension, depression, and anxiety. Studies have also shown that one’s mood is improved, the immune system is stimulated, pain finds relief by causing the body to produce natural pain killers, and personal satisfaction is increased; all of these are possible just from laughing. One quick disclaimer before I move forward though. There is no rock solid evidence that laughing actually cures ailments. You cannot take a blood test, submit a saliva sample, or see it on a CT scan. Medical professionals cannot compare the samples or scans and definitively point to a location where laughing cured a disease. It is more an adjunctive therapy according to Steve Wilson, the founder of World Laughter Tour therapeutic laughter program. Wilson has stated that, “Engaging in laughter helps the primary treatment work better. Life is about balance in many aspects. If one focuses on the negative aspects alone and runs away from the humor that surrounds our daily lives, balance will cease to exist.” 

Peter McGraw and Joel Warner are two gentlemen who agree that laughter is a fantastic medicine, and they even wrote a book about it. In order to collect evidence and inspiration for their book, they went around the world in search of what makes something funny. On a trip to The Amazon they found themselves on a plane full of clowns. As shenanigans ensued on the flight, McGraw and Warner were thoroughly enjoying themselves and inquired as to where the clowns were going. They were on their way to different places in the city of Belen such as retirement homes, shelters for abandoned children, cancer floors at the hospital, the local prison, and etc. Their job was to bring joy to whatever establishment they were visiting. Many of these individuals had regular day jobs, and volunteered their services. They discussed their stories as to why they chose to do such a task and how they witnessed laughter transform lives on many different levels. To hear more details and to read about their global search for what makes something funny, be sure to check out “The Humor Code” by McGraw and Warner. 

One last tidbit before I sign off on another blog post. Growing up, I was basically exposed to a one man comedy show. My now almost 80 year old father, for as long as I can remember, has been that guy who has a joke to tell everyone he comes in contact with. He takes pride in being able to make others laugh, even when they are not necessarily laughing at the actual joke. Sometimes the fact that he is the one who is so tickled about spreading the joke is satisfaction in its own. In the last few years, he has bestowed this gift upon one of my nephews and he is in training to take over the family joke business once his grandpa decides to pass the baton. I can rest easy knowing that even when I am almost 80 years old, I will still have access to non-stop laughter and can keep my face aching. Thus the circle of life continues. 

If you are looking for some good, clean, old-fashioned humor inspiration of your own or want the feel good emotions I previously mentioned, consider checking out “Hollywood’s Classic Comedy Teams” DVD which showcases icons such as Laurel & Hardy, Larry, Moe, & Curly, and Abbott & Costello. This one will take you back to your comedy roots and have you busting a gut. If you desire to be the funny guy or gal at work, check out the book – Humor, Seriously: Why humor is a secret weapon in business and life and how anyone can harness it…Even you by Jennifer Lynn Aker. The author breaks down how humor is vastly underleveraged in most workplaces, but that it tremendously impacts our performance, relationships, and health. Find these humor related materials and much more in the Salina Public Library’s catalog.