November. Shorter days, foggy mornings and monsoon-like weather. This time of year can adversely affect our mood and outlook on life, and therefore our ability to cope in times of change, challenge or uncertainty. Given that humour and laughter have significant mental and physical health benefits, as well as social benefits, perhaps it’s timely to remind ourselves of these.
Developing and exercising your sense of humour can help you to:
Ease anxiety and fear
Manage setbacks more effectively
Defuse conflict and resolve disagreement
Strengthen relationships and emotional connections
Improve your resilience
Boost your immune system
Recharge your energy levels
Create more ease and balance
Your sense of humour is a powerful resource for your mind and body. Humour can inspire hope and keep you grounded. Perhaps more importantly, it can protect you from the damaging effects of stress and depression. It works fast and is free to use.
Your success in life is often determined by how you handle setbacks. Maintaining a sense of humour when faced with problems can help you get perspective on the issue. It becomes easier to keep a positive, optimistic outlook through the difficult situation, disappointment or loss. Have you ever tried to stay feeling angry, anxious or sad when you’re laughing, or smiling?
Your energy level will increase, enabling you to focus on how to manage the situation to achieve a different outcome, or simply feel better in the moment.
Here are four questions that will help change your focus when faced with a challenge:
Where is this issue on a scale of 1-10? (1 = insignificant, 10 = major, even life changing).
How important will this be in six months’ time?
Is the situation really my problem?
Is my response appropriate and effective?
Most events in life offer us the opportunity to choose whether to laugh or not. As adults we can sometimes forget how to laugh and be playful, especially at work. We may need to create more opportunities to laugh and find humour so that when the going gets tough, it becomes more natural to see a lighter side.
Here are some practical reminders:
Laugh at yourself — don’t take yourself too seriously. Share your embarrassing moments and your quirks. You’re only human, after all.
Look for the positives in situations — life is full of bizarre and ironic moments. Searching for a new perspective will open your mind to new possibilities.
Surround yourself with positive people and images that make you smile or laugh. In particular, observe children, who are experts at playing with everyday problems.
Accept what you can’t control or change — especially remember you can’t change the behaviour of others.
Be grateful — reflect on what’s good in your life.
Make time for humour and laughter — watch a funny movie or TV show, share funny jokes or stories, indulge in your favourite activities.
Hazel Morley is principal of Think Smart: Training and Coaching with Change in Mind. She can be contacted at email@example.com.