I am a strong advocate for the use of humor in the legal profession. In this article "Don't Deck the Clown: Inviting Humor into the Law Firm", mentioned at idealawg before, I write about several benefits of humor, including:
- Creative problem solving
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Stress reduction and health promotion
- Improved client relations.
I also discuss some of the reasons why humor may be resisted and how to incorporate some humor into the practice of law. Yes, some of the suggestions may be a bit over the top but being over the top, testing boundaries and assumptions, is part of allowing into a person's life (maybe your life) more humor.
Because I am convinced of the physiological value humor holds for us, I was delighted to see Daniel Pink link from his blog to an interview of Dr. Lee Berk about laughter's reduction of stress hormones. Berk and his colleague Dr. Stanley Tan are two of the leading researchers on the positive effects of laughter on the immune system.
In his A Whole New Mind, Pink presents 6 skills he says are essential in our new century:
Laughter is of course a fabulous, delectable part of number 5 on the list: Play. Be sure to listen to what Pink has to say about storytelling, too. Storytelling is another topic to which I often return at idealawg. (The next post on that topic will be about the resistance throughout history to storytelling and whether or not this century will more fully embrace that way of exchanging thoughts, feelings and information.)
Now please go out into your world and laugh a little, play a little, lower your cortisol a little.
When human beings lose all sense of the comic in relation to themselves, their convictions, and their suspicions, tragic collisions are inevitable.
--Conrad Hyers, And God Created Laughter
Psychosclerosis, a hardening of the attitudes, is a potent cause of
stress. Laughter can alter perspectives, uncover options, and help to
--Daniel O. Dugan
Humor in relationships is touchy: Laughter can bring you closer, or it can pack a cruel punch. How to avoid the pitfalls and use humor to strengthen your bond.
"Humor is a tool like any other," says Robert L. Weiss, a psychologist at the University of Oregon who studies humor in relationships. "People use humor in lots of different ways, including some negative ones. It's not just one monolithic thing." Almost every sweet, supportive way of using it has an evil twin; an aggressive, selfish or manipulative version. And like those teasing comments in the workplace that can just as easily feel like flattery or an attack, the two sides of humor are so intimately intertwined, it almost isn't funny.