A recent Economist article “Why we need to laugh at work”, noted that “a study of undergraduates found that those with a strong sense of humour experienced less stress and anxiety than those without it.” The article went on to provide workplace examples of when humor works well to reduce stress and where it is just awkward, such as in every episode of The Office which my teenage daughter watches over and over. Though work is a serious endeavor, we can’t and shouldn’t take it seriously all the time. This is especially true this week as everyone waits to find out who will be our President. A client and friend noted to me this morning that it is ironic that a state where gambling and prostitution are legal will likely decide who our next President will be. Welcome to 2020.
While this article focused on laughter at work, humor and laughter are important outside of work as well. After all, the phrase laughter is the best medicine was not coined by some struggling comedian trying to gain an audience. Studies show that laughter helps to improve our moods, strengthen our immune systems and protect us from the damages caused by stress.
I’ve talked before in this blog that we are all grieving the loss of something during this pandemic, some much more than others. We all are dealing with stress about that which we might lose if this continues for longer than we imagined. The combination of the pandemic, our concerns about social justice and a nasty election season are wearing me down and I’m guessing that we are all at low energy levels at this point. So, trying to find some humor in our current situation and laughing a bit more may be just what the doctor ordered. I think that our virtual world makes it more difficult because it is hard to be spontaneously funny on your 7th Zoom call of the day but we need to try. I’ll close with a comment from a comedian. He said “everyone laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian, but no one is laughing now.”
This week’s selection is:
Is This Anything by Jerry Seinfeld
Donald Liebensen reviewed this book for The Washington Post and noted that “Seinfeld” proudly proclaimed to be a show about nothing. “Is This Anything?,” Jerry Seinfeld’s first book in almost three decades, is about everything. It’s about childhood, teenhood, adulthood and parenthood. It’s about bumper cars and dry cleaning, magicians and supermarket check-out rubber dividers, marriage and the zip line.
“Is This Anything?” is a decade-by-decade collection of ideas Seinfeld initially wrote out longhand on yellow legal pads, anythings he meticulously and doggedly crafted, worked and honed in front of audiences until they became somethings, and those somethings became his act.