Best Medicine

Laughing emoticon with tears of joy

Watching the evening news is depressing. The Taliban retakes Afghanistan; there are rampant fires and floods; and COVID continues to surge. There’s no question we could all use a dose of laughter. The benefits are legion: it boosts our mood; strengthens our immune system; diminishes pain; relaxes the body and mind; and relieves stress. It is also contagious. Laughter is a panacea that is often overlooked and undervalued.

In her TED talk “Why we Laugh,” cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott states that laughing accesses an ancient evolutionary system to make ourselves feel better. Here’s the catch: Scott also states that “posed” (fake) laughter activates an area of the brain that questions why someone is laughing. In this case, it’s better not to fake it ‘til you make it.

Since laughter bonds teams, it’s a useful tool to incorporate into meetings and presentations. We often hear “I’m not funny,” but we’re not advocating you become a stand-up comic or deliver one-liners.

Instead, use observational humor and when appropriate, poke fun at yourself. Look for the oddness or absurdity of everyday behavior and you’ll have plenty of material. The result? You’ll bring joy to others and make yourself smile.

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