“I think being funny is not anyone’s first choice”. Probably Woody Allen is right. Changing a bit the context (he was talking about his occupation) and considering life, I wonder why humour shouldn’t be our first choice.
Humour has positive effects on our mental health, and it is known that people with a high sense of humour has more self-esteem and cope better with pressure and stress because when we laugh, physical and emotional tension are released. Performing activities without a specific purpose further than having a good time, making jokes or taking part in games make people be more good-humoured and less hostile.
Therefore, why not using humour as a key tool in our work (and in our life)?
We used to play a lot during our childhood. It was a way to connect with the other children, improve relationships and learn. When we grow old, we tend to avoid playing; maybe you think is something for children. But it’s not.
Playing relaxes our body and improves our brain function. But above all, playing is funny. It changes our state of mind, allowing us to get perspective from reality. It makes things lighter, less important.
Let’s probe this right. From 0 to 10, just check what your mood looks like. How you are feeling. How much weight is over your shoulders?
Now, stop reading and play a little. Go here, choose a game and spend the next 5-10 minutes playing. I’ll wait right here…
Welcome back! Now, from 0 to 10, how are you? Do you feel different? Maybe there is a little smile coming to your lips? Maybe you’re more relaxed after having a playful break?
Usually, after spending some time playing, we feel different: more relaxed, less anxious. Playfulness helps us adapt to changing circumstances and integrate learnings.
Playful activities have the same effect in your team. Indeed, human play is fundamentally a social phenomenon. The introduction of playful activities at work provoke people to improvise, innovate and build social bonds, letting them behave in a more spontaneous manner. Moreover, you can use this to prevent employees’ burnout and increase productivity.
Don’t take yourself so seriously
Last week, I attended a conference given by a very well-known comedian in Spain, Dani Cámara. He told us about why we, at times, get caught into a bad mood: we take ourselves very seriously. I definitely agree with him.
When we are bad-humoured, it is because there’s something we feel or think should be in a specific way, and it’s not. And, of course, we think we are right. There’s not a tiny, little space for doubt or for considering other perspective.
Instead, when we detach from our opinions, consider other points of view and don’t let our ego take over, we live happier. We need to cultivate an open mind and even laugh at ourselves as a way to prevent bad moods.
When was the last time you made an error and laugh about it? Me, few weeks ago. In front of a class of 40 students, speaking English, I called a male student “she”. Some years ago, I would have got very ashamed and probably this would have impact on the rest of the lecture. This time, I laughed at me, and I actually used what had just happened as a lesson for the class.
My behaviour had a very interesting effect on them: the participation arose, and we all enjoyed more the lesson.
In summary, take yourself less seriously and learn the positive effects of playing; especially when you have a problem to solve, a disagreement to fix or need to think out-of-the-box. Humour can be your saviour.