Laughter – the stress medicine

Keith December 10th, 2007

“Creativity and humour are identical.  They both involve bringing together two items, which do not have an obvious connection and creating a relationship.  Laughter improves creativity.  Laughing… is a very sophisticated brain function, which sweeps our entire cerebral cortex, and is terrific for improving mental flexibility.”

This quote is from the web site of Humour Australia, an organisation that “inspires positive change and healthy working relationships.”  (Aka “HA!”)  Thanks to Frank Connelly and the VPS CIN for bringing this to my attention!

This is based on some fairly impressive research.  I am particularly interested in the connection to creativity, bearing in mind earlier posts here about the importance of creativity in knowledge work.

Also interesting to see the research on stress:

“Humour and laughter affect a physiological response, which is actually opposite to the effects of stress, according to Lee Berk & Stanley Tan – Loma Linda University School of Medicine.”

In summary, the research highlights the value of humour in business:

  • Promote higher productivity
  • Improve customer service
  • Build employee engagement
  • Reduce stress and staff absenteeism
  • Increase employee health & wellbeing
  • Enhance lateral thinking and creativity
  • Create a more resilient workforce

Are there any benefits in this list that your organisation isn’t interested in?

3 Responses to “Laughter – the stress medicine”

  1. Troy Swindells-Groseon 14 Dec 2007 at 9:26 am

    Hi Keith

    Thanks for the props! What’s fascinating is that this field is fairly new/under-utilised here, but has an incredible amount of corroborating evidence overseas… also the new science in both brain chemistry and management at present is “Happiness”. (See “Time” cover – 2005 I think?)

    This was once a negative word, but views are changing and the bottom-line always beckons those organisations who have quite literally tried everything else. Really, it comes down to effective relationship management – these things once considered “soft-skills” are really at the core of any anticipated or expected improvement in performance.

    For Zara (my wife and Co-Director of HA!) and I, we were previously employed with a communications group that turns over $400M+ and we were earning significant six-figure salaries but were miserable because the culture of the group was a negative one. Now, the job itself was easy (and we were good at it!) but for people who had always worked in the humour industry to lose their sense of humour, we couldn’t help but wonder, “What are other people in more “serious” roles doing and feeling”.

    So we embarked on five years of research (so far!) and developed the many HA! philosophies we use now with corporates and government groups around the country. For us – it’s easy – this is more than a job it’s a passionate belief… a cause! Thanks for the interest and for spreading the word… the bottom line is, the only way any of us will change the world is to really THINK!

    Good humour is good business… yours in good humour…

    :)

    TroyBoy

  2. Keithon 14 Dec 2007 at 11:16 am

    Troy & Zara -

    Thanks for the session yesterday – it was a blast! And thanks for the comment. I’m impressesd with the research and energy you guys put into this – you certainly make a convincing case, and one that is a lot of fun!

  3. [...] … certainly sounds like the right thing to do at this time of year!  As per an earlier post here, the VPS-CIN ran a Christmas Celebration last Thursday, featuring Humour Australia.  You can read more about what happened on the CIN site.  [...]

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