It’s Humor Month all this month. (Which makes sense. I mean, why would you stop at day 27?) Here are six easy ways to limber up your funny bone:
1. Practice looking for accidentally funny stuff. Start a file or book at work for your team to collect the unintentional humor lurking everywhere such as newspaper headlines, “Kids Make Nutritious Snacks,” warning labels, “For Indoor or Outdoor Use ONLY” or signs, “Ears Pierced While You Wait!”
2. Write your own jokes using the comedy 101 “Three Rules Rule,” wherein you string people along in the setup with two predictable items, then veer into left comedy field with the third item. Three is thought to be the ideal number because it helps with the tempo and timing, and you need the two straight items to build up the surprise: “When hiking in grizzly country always bring along a noise maker, pepper spray, and someone you can outrun.” (Thank-you folks, I’ll be performing here all week long…)
3. Practice writing funny captions for cartoons or strange photos. Humor researchers often use cartooning exercises to gauge people’s ability to generate humor. This can become an easy workplace contest: find five single frame cartoons, remove the captions, and then offer a prize for the funniest new caption.
4. Create Top-10 lists. It’s an easy format that anyone can use to flex their funny bone, and again an easy workplace contest: you can have a new topic each month and take ideas from everyone to create the final top-10 list revealed at the end of the month.
5. Watch more humor. Not only do studies suggest it helps your creative thinking abilities and mental fluency, a growing body of research suggests that watching comedy truly is what the stress doctor ordered. A study at the University of Maryland found that after watching comedies the artery size of viewers increased and blood flow improved by 20%, whereas stressful viewing constricted the size of arteries and reduced blood flow. Another study found an increase in T-killer cells by 60%. A third study found that watching a sitcom reduces anxiety three times more effectively than just sitting and relaxing!
6. Always maintain the perspective that you are starring in your very own sitcom every day. (This just might totally change how you view the supporting cast of characters in your life!)
Michael Kerr is a very funny motivational speaker and international business speaker who travels the world researching, writing and speaking about inspiring workplaces. Sign up for his weekly e-zine, Humor at Work for great ideas and inspiration.
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