Let’s face it. If you’re like most people today, you’re stressed. From the intensity of the business environment to unpredictable, constantly changing world events to the fast-approaching holiday season, there are plenty of reasons to feel the pressure—to buckle down and get serious.
It’s also a good time to answer the age-old question, What do you call a bee who’s having a bad hair day?
That’s right. It’s a good time to laugh (even if you’re somewhat annoyed at yourself for laughing at a particularly dumb joke).
From a thinking standpoint, laughter can be an instant antidote to ambiguity and tension because it shifts your mindset. It’s a “pattern interrupt” for your brain—a way to hit the pause button on habitual negative thinking.
Here are five more reasons you should take the time to laugh:
- You need to remember something: The stress-busting properties of laughter have been shown to shift brain wave activity toward the “gamma frequency,” which could help improve memory and recall.
- You need others to remember something: When it’s funny, it’s memorable. Humor makes ideas “sticky” because people remember what they find funny. That’s why we like to incorporate cartoons, funny videos and images into our presentations.
- You need to exercise your mental muscles: Research shows that working through jokes can be a kind of mental workout, enhancing your ability to learn. Anything that requires you to stop for a minute and get conscious about your thinking is great for your mental agility. Even better when it has the added mood-enhancing benefits of laughter.
- You need the team to collaborate through conflict. Just as sharing laughter and a good joke will help you strengthen your connections with others, humor is a good way to relieve tension, take away the potentially threatening edge of certain information or conflicting opinions, and put people in a more positive frame of mind so they can stay focused on the task at hand.
- You need some mental distance. Humor promotes resilience. When you laugh, you gain a sense of detachment and control that allows you to remain resilient, even when things are going rough.
This list is truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of this simple, free and readily available strategy for reducing stress while working out your brain.
So the next time someone asks, “What’s smarter than a talking dog?” You’ll know the answer.
(A spelling bee, of course.)
Lighten up! Your brain will thank you!