Laugh Your Way to the Top
Episode #5 of the course Ten essential traits for today’s leaders by Frank McKinley
Welcome to Lesson Five. You’re halfway to the finish line!
Last time we learned how to make every day count. Today, we’ll learn why a sense of humor is essential for any leader who wants to make a difference. Why do you need a sense of humor? Isn’t laughing silly and wasteful? Hardly.
If you’ve ever said “I’ll laugh about this later”, here are some compelling reasons to laugh now.
Laughter Will Help You Live Longer
A good belly laugh does a body good—literally. When you’re stressed, these things can happen: heart disease, higher cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, stomach problems, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging, premature death. That’s nothing to laugh about.
Here’s what happens when you laugh regularly: your whole body relaxes, your immune system strengthens, the release of endorphins triggers, calories burn, you live longer.
In 1964, doctors diagnosed Norman Cousins with connective tissue disease. Full recovery was rare, about 1 in 500. He knew that negative emotions were toxic so he took laughter therapy to help fight the disease. Twenty minutes of watching the Marx Brothers gave him two hours of pain-free sleep. Daily doses of humor allowed him to fully recover and live to the ripe old age of 75. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Three Ways to Build a Sense of Humor That Keeps You Sane, Healthy, and Happy
Don’t take yourself so seriously. What does that mean exactly? It means you give yourself (and others) permission to be human.
You can have the most drive in the world—and still make mistakes. You can be the friendliest person your customer ever met—and they can still reject your offer. Your intentions can be as pure as a snowflake before it hits the ground—yet your execution can be the bumpiest road you ever traveled.
Nobody is perfect. When you fail, laugh.
Discover what makes you laugh. Nobody is so serious that they never laugh at anything.
What amuses you? What makes you laugh no matter how much you suppress it? What jokes and stories do you share with your friends?
Life is full of absurdities. And absurdity is anything that doesn’t make sense to you.
Why on earth would he/she do that?
Common sense isn’t as common as you think. Everyone defines common sense as what makes sense to them. Remember that, and you’ll understand people a lot better. And you’ll understand why absurdity makes people laugh so much.
Learn how to have fun and you’ll be funny. Most of the time humor is just pointing out something absurd.
If you want to be funny, poke fun at yourself more than others. If you do poke fun at others, make sure they know you like them. Then they’ll laugh with you and not find you annoying. Comedians often use humor to show that something is wrong with the world. We laugh with them, and ideally, we change our ways so things get better.
What if humor could change the world? It’s definitely a better way than using guilt. Guilt can make you feel bad, stressed out, and often you only change to get rid of the guilt. Humor makes you happy. When you’re happy, you feel more confident, and see more possibilities.
Laugh Your Way to Positive Change
You’ve seen how humor can help you live a longer, healthier life. You’ve also learned how humor fosters better relationships.
Now let’s make humor a daily habit:
1. Find at least one thing today that made you laugh (or want to).
2. Tell it to someone you trust.
3. Write it down so you can read it later and laugh again.
Soon you’ll be looking for things to laugh about. When you can laugh at yourself and at life, you’ll just be a better leader—you’ll be a better person.
Next time we’ll look at how to develop your sense of intuition, regardless of your personality type!
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor
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