Everyone has heard the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But, who really takes the time to laugh in today’s busy corporate environment?

Or, a better question is, who really makes the time for laughter?

The best office atmosphere is one that welcomes and appreciates laughter. Laughter releases stress and helps people maintain perspective.

Dr. Redford Williams, a psychiatrist at Duke University, said that laughter is one of the best ways to reduce chronic cynicism. The problem is, most offices are out of practice.

Laughing is not difficult, but it does take time to become comfortable with it.

Tim O’Brien, the director of the Institute for Stress Management in Tallahassee, Florida, suggests a technique for people to use:

1. Go stand in front of a mirror;

2. Look at yourself straight in the eyes; and,

3. Start laughing

Many people take themselves far too seriously. When a person learns to laugh at themselves, it teaches them to lighten up. It makes life more fun. Most everyone can think back to an occasion when they were alone and laughed uproariously over something, whether it was a TV program, a humorous novel or the antics of the pet dog.

Or, maybe the laughter stemmed from a mishap you incurred, such as the time you were more than an hour late for work because you couldn’t find your car keys, only to discover that they were on top of the jam jar in the refrigerator.

Sometimes, laughter is more of a relief than anger. Laughter strengthens the immune system.

Use humor to take the edge off an unavoidable yet unpleasant topic.

Dr. Redford Williams, in. his book, “The Trusting Heart: Good News for Type A Behavior,” writes that everyone should laugh at themselves. He says that laughter allows people to see the silliness of much of what makes people angry in the first place. He recommends that people try to catch themselves when they’re being cynical. Then, look closely at the act that inspired the cynicism.

Often, the reason for the cynicism will be unjustified and, therefore, laughable. The next time you’re unreasonably impatient because the car in front of you is a little slow at taking off from the light when it changes to green, stop and ask yourself if that person is really trying to put a crimp in your day and if it is worth getting stressed about. Laugh it off, and you’ll feel better for having done so.

I have a friend who had once put in one of his usual 12-hour workdays, only to arrive home and have his wife remind him that they were meeting friends at a local comedy club later that evening. He begged his wife to cancel the plans, but the friends couldn’t be reached. So, my friend attended the event despite his misgivings, and, to his surprise, laughed nonstop at the comedy acts on stage. By evening’s end, he felt better than he had in weeks.

Now is the time to improve your life, boost your health and to get a better perspective on things. Laughter is an incredible relief and you will soon feel the tension of the workday dissolving as your shoulders shake with laughter.

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