At the age of 13 I had to give a speech at my bat-mitzvah, which tradition suggests should include my observations about Judaism and the bat-mitzvah ritual in particular. The moment arrived; I stood up and began my speech. The opening went something like this, “I’d like to thank you for coming today. Many of you traveled great distances to be here with us. We have friends here who just last night flew in from Korea, and, boy were their arms tired!”
I believe in laughter. Not a profound thought, I realize, but I have grown to appreciate the role that laughter has played in my life. And I do everything in my power to ensure that every day I have the chance to experience gut-wrenching laughter.
I grew up in a home rife with laughter lead by a father who loved comedians. He could recite routines from Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, and others and was a huge fan of the original cast of Saturday Night Live. At any given time, you could enter my home and find my father and brother reenacting a John Belushi samurai skit in the living room, with hair in pony tails, togas and all. When my father died, my uncle and I were pouring through his Day Timer to see if we could locate any additional life insurance information. What we found was an extensive list of sentences. My uncle took one look at the list and burst into laughter, not something I was expecting during this very solemn occasion. He then pointed out to me that each sentence was a punch line from my father’s favorite jokes. Later that night, my uncle told us these jokes and we laughed until we couldn’t breathe. My father had died…yet still he reminded us of how great it is to laugh.
Now, for me, laughter is not just an evening and weekend event, it has to be part of every day, even at work. We all live busy lives, filled with 24X7 banking, shopping, chores, and more. But for some odd reason, laughter is an activity we relegate to leisure time.
Fortunately, my career path has landed me in a wonderful environment where I can be successful professionally, but can also laugh hysterically each day with only positive benefits. Without knowing it, I have found a place where my colleagues are brilliant and creative and have funny bones that never end and never break.
One colleague is famous for pointing out the ridiculous nature of every day life, forcing people to agree with him while they clutch their sides in laughter. Another always unexpectedly interjects just the right smart-aleck remark during a group discussion. And, every time we hear a sireon outside, someone else says, “Ken, your ride is here.”
I enjoy instigating this humorous chaos, but there are others who are much better at it. But, in truth, we all benefit regardless of who starts it. We relax, we let down our guard, and we see each other for the real human beings we are. And I believe—as a result—that we are also more creative, connected, caring and successful than any group I have ever worked with.
I can’t honestly say that the company I work for ever set out to create a work environment that embraces laughter so readily, but subconsciously it has amassed a group of people who share equally in providing and enjoying humor. I feel like I have found my place at last. A place were success and laughter coexist side-by-side.
You may think me a tad simple to be espousing the power of laughter, but there is far too much sadness in the world not to embrace this idea of laughter 24X7. I bet if each of us set the goal of bringing laughter into ALL aspects of our lives, we would experience personally profound changes in our own small worlds. Go home tonight, dig out your Groucho Marx glasses, your pink wigs, your Steve Martin arrow through the head, your whoopie cushion, your favorite joke…take them with you, wear them when you drive, use them at work or in the grocery store. Go forth…and laugh out loud!
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