Get this! As part of a study called "Workplace Laughter and Personal Efficacy" (Journal of Primary Prevention, vol. 28:2), 33 employees of a behavioral health center met for 15 minutes a day for 15 consecutive workdays to engage in "a guided program of nun-humor-dependent laughter" (i.e., making your body laugh regardless of whether anything funny is going on). And, as arduous as such forced laughter might sound, it made everybody feel better. The participants reported significant increases in self-regulation, optimism, positive emotions, and social identification – increases they maintained at a follow-up examination.
But why was this study done?
"One of the biggest methodological problems in the research on laughter is the failure to distinguish between humor and laughter," wrote researchers Heidi Beckman, Ph.D., Nathan Regier, Ph.D., and Judy L. Young. "Humor is a construct, while laughter is a physiological event… Humor is a stimulus, and laughter is one of several possible behavioral responses to that stimulus. When this distinction is made, it is easier to see that humor and laughter are distinct (although often associated) events. Humor can occur without laughter, and laughter can occur without humor."
Ahhh. So thanks to this work, we now know that "Purposeful laughter is a realistic, sustainable, and generalizable intervention that enhances employees’ morale, resilience, and personal efficacy beliefs." And if we suggest this practice to our coworkers and they laugh incredulously, we need only remember: they are not laughing at us, they are merely ameliorating their self-regulation and optimism.
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