A UX designer, an engineer, and a product manager are walking on the beach discussing a project. They stumble upon a mysterious lamp partially hidden in the sand, which (of course) the designer picks up and rubs. Suddenly a genie pops out and gives them each one wish.
The designer wishes for a yacht to sail around the world and immediately disappears. The engineer wishes for a private island and disappears as well. For the final wish the product manager pauses, considers the app they are building, and tells the genie, "I want them both back right after lunch."
A team member shared that gem during our all-team Friday meeting, which closes with a (family- and work-friendly) "joke of the week." This new tradition caps off the week and gives us a moment to share a good chuckle as a team.
The average adult laughs 17 times per day. But if you cannot remember the last time you enjoyed a hearty laugh, that is a good sign you need more merriment in your life.
Whether it is sharing a silly joke or a funny story about your kids, adding laughter as a workday priority can make you more productive and less stressed. I know that I need to do more of it. When I share a laugh with our team, I get to simply enjoy the moment and the camaraderie we share.
Now I am not saying that your entire day should be consumed by humor. But for startups especially, it can be too easy to get bogged down in the work and forget to have fun.
Here is why we all should find more ways to incorporate laughter into our workday:
Lifts your mood
Sometimes it is only after a good laugh that you realize how much you actually needed it. Laughter is not only the best antidote to a bad day, but it also provides a welcome release of stress. A good laugh produces physical changes in the body, reducing stress hormones and helping you unwind from tension. Laughter can also help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Keeps you healthy
Did you know that laughing 100 times gives your heart and lungs a workout and lowers blood pressure? Researchers also believe that laughter helps ward off diseases. While stress causes certain hormones to flare up and suppresses your immune system, laughter actually activates your body's defenses.
Laughter is a healthy way to release negative emotions that you might be storing up, such as fear or anger. That is why you feel happily exhausted after a bout of side-splitting laughter. During hard times, giving ourselves permission to laugh once again helps us to cope and regain our perspective.
Laughter in the workplace brings people together and builds a sense of community. Researchers believe that laughter came before human speech, and helped groups to bond and experience a shared sense of relief after danger passed. And it truly is contagious -- the sound of another person's laughter triggers a response in your brain and primes your facial muscles (which is probably why you cannot help but smile at even the lamest of jokes).
We all have our work to do. But every so often, comic relief is just what we need to lighten the load and add some levity.
Laughter is a necessary part of life, so remember to laugh a little every day. Especially for a startup, it will make those long hours all the more enjoyable for everyone.