Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 20;   May 15, 2002: I Think, Therefore I Laugh

I Think, Therefore I Laugh

by

Humor is fun — that's why they call it "funny." If you add humor to your own work environment, you'll reduce your level of stress, increase your creativity, and drive your enemies nuts.

If you think you're naturally funny, you probably already add humor to your own workday. But even if you're less convinced of your comedic talents, you can rely on others. Here are some tips to help you find more humor at work. They're especially useful after performance reviews.

Read procedure manuals
Moose mugAre these guys kidding? If we actually tried to run the company this way, we'd be out of business before you could say, "Use the process, Luke."
Keep an audio recording player handy or listen on the Web
Get a player and a pair of headphones, and bring some humorous recordings to work. Take a humor break now and then with Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. They'll help you keep corporate policy — and workplace politics — in perspective.
Read humor on the Web
Almost everything on the Web is funny, if you tilt it just right. But some sites actually try to be funny. Examples: News of the Weird, HumorLinks and the US House of Representatives. Uh, maybe not the House of Representatives. If you can't do this at work, print pages at home and read them whenever you need to.
Keep a book ready
The human adult
needs 12 good
laughs a day
Get a book of humor — short jokes, funny stories, or inane observations — and pick it up now and then for a few laughs. Twelve good laughs is a minimum daily adult requirement.
Capture gems from the air
Almost daily, someone in your life says something truly hilarious — sometimes intentionally. Intentional or not, write it down, with enough context so you'll understand it months from now. Once a year, read your collection from beginning to end, when no one is looking.
Post humor on the wall outside your door
As people pass, they'll stop to read your postings and laugh. With some exceptions, their laughter is much better than normal hallway noise.
Subscribe to an email humor list
There are lots of these, both formal and informal. Sometimes the informal ones — the networks of friends of friends — are the funniest. It's funny what some people find funny.
Get a cartoon-a-day desk calendar
Every morning make a little ritual of tearing off yesterday's cartoon and reading today's. Save the really good ones. Post the bad ones outside someone else's door.
Throw away your boring coffee mug
Get one that's really ridiculous, with a cartoon character sculpted on it — maybe Wiley Coyote or Bullwinkle J. Moose. Take it with you to the really important teleconferences.

These tips can help you most when you're least likely to remember them. Even if you do remember, reaching for a laugh when you're feeling angry or low can be difficult. But if you can remember, and if you can muster the will, the payoff from laughter is the best there is — happiness. Go to top Top  Next issue: Food for Thought  Next Issue

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Pick one up from AmazonWant more portable humor? Load up your MP3 player with Stephen Colbert, Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. Pick up a new MP3 player from Amazon.com.

Here are some amusing Web sites, including a few from the February 11, 2001 issue of The Wall Street Journal. Some of these play sound, so prepare accordingly:

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

One negative outweighs a world of positivesWhen It Really Counts, Be Positive
When we express our ideas, we can usually choose between a positive construction and a negative one. We can advocate for one path, or against another. Even though these choices have nearly identical literal meanings, positive constructions are safer in tense situations.
CongruenceCoping with Problems
How we cope with problems is a choice. When we choose our coping style, we help determine our ability to address the problems we face. Of eight styles we can identify, only one is universally constructive, and we rarely use it.
A wild turkeyIt's a Wonderful Day!
Most knowledge workers are problem solvers. We work towards goals. We anticipate problems as best we can, and when problems appear, we solve them. But our focus on anticipating problems can become a problem in itself — at work and in Life.
Baron Joseph Lister (1827-1912)Good Change, Bad Change: I
Change is all around. Some changes are welcome and some not, but when we distinguish good change from bad, we often get it wrong. Why?
Six atoms in a Schrödinger "cat" statePreventing Toxic Conflict: I
Conflict resolution skills are certainly useful. Even more advantageous are toxic conflict prevention skills, and skills that keep constructive conflict from turning toxic.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A form of off road driving also known as mud boggingComing November 30: Avoiding Speed Bumps: II
Many of the difficulties we encounter when working together don't create long-term harm, but they do cause delays, confusion, and frustration. Here's Part II of a little catalog of tactics for avoiding speed bumps. Available here and by RSS on November 30.
Tuckman's stages of group developmentAnd on December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.

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