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Is Humour the Best Medicine at Work?


It can be!

You’ve heard the old groaner:  I always give 100% at work:  10% on Monday, 23% on Tuesday, 40% on Wednesday, 22% on Thursday and 5% on Friday…

Last week I belly laughed for 2 hours as Elvira Kurt www.elvirakurt.ca  riffed on life, from ageing to mothers to parenting to being body scanned at the airport to the quirks of life in London Ontario (Conception Sushi beside the Naughty adult store?!).  Every day this week, some turn of phrase or gesture  would come back to me and I’d howl all over again.

Little kids love giggling and snorting!  Remember when you were into  Knock-Knock jokes?  Did you know a 5 year old laughs more than 400 times a day?  By the time we’re adults, we might (sorta) smile 5 times a day.  Yikes:  what happens to our inner jester?  Being child-like is waaay different than being childish.

The career assessment I facilitate (The Pathfinder Career System  www.cashlehman.com actually measures an individual’s  sense of humour.  Do you have the ability to see when you’re taking work, life and/or yourself too seriously?  Can you boost yourself and your team by telling jokes, teasing, having fun?  Or are you an Eeyore, taking yourself very seriously indeed,  never laughing at your own shortcomings but whinge-ing about everyone else and every thing in sight?  How do others perceive you?

Just to be clear:  we’re not talking about inappropriate humour (those homophobic, misogynist, racist e-mails that are circulated), bullying, harassment or sarcasm.  Those are topics for another time.

Research has shown that laughter is the original cheap and cheerful drug:   free, user-friendly and fun!  Humour has lots of benefits:


  • Reduces your blood pressure and protects your heart
  • Relaxes your muscles and whole body
  • Deepens your breathing
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Increases your energy level
  • Releases endorphins, natural painkillers


  • Reduces doubts about yourself
  • Softens your judgement, blame and criticism of others
  • Keeps you optimistic
  • Helps you recharge and give things another try
  • Boosts your resilience
  • Makes you feel better if not good or great


  • Is infectious
  • Sets others at ease
  • Establishes better rapport more quickly
  • Diffuses conflict and disputes
  • Strengthens the team

So:  three questions to ask when work (or life) doesn’t feel all that funny:

  • Is it my problem?
  • How serious is this really on a scale of 1-10?
  • Will it look and/or feel the same 24 hours,  a week, a month or a year from now?

Need inspiration (or “permission”) to be more spontaneous and have fun?

  • Play with kids for an hour (blow bubbles, swing, revisit those Knock-Knock jokes…)
  • Re-read your favourite comics (Archie and Veronica are back;  there’s always Dilbert;  giggle or groan over Pud in Double Bubble )
  • Play with your pet (how can you not laugh when your dog’s tongue is lolling goofily out the side of her mouth as she hangs her head out the window of the car in sheer ecstasy?)
  • Sing karaoke (you’ll sound better than you do in the shower or car, really!)
  • Laugh at yourself (you are pretty funny!)

To heck with apples:  it’s a laugh a day that keeps the doctor away…

“The highest form of humour is to laugh at what you hold sacred and still hold it sacred” (Abraham Maslow)