Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Law Career Fitness Challenge #9- Maintain a Sense of Humor

law career fitness challengeLaughter is good for the mind and body. It reduces stress by inhibiting the stress-hormone cortisol. It reduces pain by increasing the flow of pleasure-boosting endorphins. It improves your immune system by producing T-cells, interferon and globulin proteins.

These benefits will make you a better lawyer – and that’s no joke.

In his book “Anatomy of an Illness,” Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins tells how humor helped cure his life-threatening disease. His drug of choice: classic Marx Brothers comedies. And though his recovery was not based solely on a few good chuckles (vitamins were also a big part of his regimen), the proof was undeniable. He lived a productive and active life well into his 80s.

“Today we have a better understanding of how laughter affects human physiology,” writes this expert. “[H]umor has a positive impact on intellectual and emotional functioning. It helps put life’s trials and tribulations into healthy perspective by making them seem smaller, aids us in overcoming fear, allows us to take ourselves less seriously and triggers our creativity.”

Comedy as a Career Strategy

An easy grin will also help you land a job. In a survey of business executives, 84 percent said people with a sense of humor do a better job, and 91 percent said humor is a key to career advancement.

Not only that, but when you get hired, you’ll be the most popular player on the team.

“People want to work with people they like,” says the author of What Most Successful People Do at Work. “Why wouldn’t you? You spend huge chunks of your waking hours at work, so you don’t want it to be a death march. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building) and you can’t offend anyone.”

Humor brings people together and eases stress – creating a work environment where great things happen.

It can also protect and prolong your career. A study of emergency room physicians found that patients were less likely to sue doctors who brought a sense of humor into the examining room. This was true even for dire cases involving fatal diseases. Adding a light touch – despite the gravity of the situation – made the doctor seem more authentic, caring and compassionate.

Five Training Tips

  1. Hang around funny people. They don’t have to be standup comics. But surrounding yourself with positive, happy souls will improve your attitude and enhance your productivity.
  2. Turn to laughter when you’re feeling stuck. If you’ve hit a creative wall and are making no forward progress, try moving sideways. Watch a funny movie. Attend a show at your local comedy/improv theater. Recall a humorous incident that happened recently. It might just get the creative juices flowing.
  3. Lighten up. The law is serious business, but it’s not life or death. You win some and you lose some. Practice letting go. Learn to travel light. Don’t burden yourself with a sack filled with professional regrets and resentments. It will only give you a backache.
  4. Include humor in your job search criteria. When you interview, look around your prospective workplace. Do the employees seem gleeful or glum? Do they smile or sneer? “Employees like to work for and with others who have a sense of humor,” according to this piece. “We all prefer to have fun at work. It should not feel like indentured servitude.”
  5. Be Like Ike. “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
If you missed last week's challenge, you can find it here


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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