Laughter as Medicine: Works in Agency Life Too

I particularly enjoyed Basma Aboulelenein’s Aug. 7 blog on “25 Ways to Break the Cycle of Routine.” To springboard from Ms. Aboulelenein’s insights, I’d like to offer some workplace observations based on my 8 years of agency life.

On the upside, I’ve experienced the immense joys of success that come from being part of a team with the passion to do innovative work. That said, agency life, like many careers, can be demanding.

The day-to-day reality is filled with the stress of meeting tough deadlines, making sense of challenging projects, and trying to effectively manage schedules and budgets. Despite spending my days surrounded by peers, I have to admit from time to time it can feel a bit isolated.  The routine noted in Ms. Aboulelenein’s blog can be all too real at times. We can get trapped in our cubes, inundated in emails and reports. And seemingly marathon back-to-back-to-back meetings and calls can take their toll.

Sound familiar? Well, from time to time, there’s something we’re all in desperate need of – some relief. But not just any relief, I’m talking about comic relief. Think about it… if humor is good medicine, this antidote for stress should resonate particularly well for those of us in healthcare. IT’S HEALTHY! There are even clinical trials that show the results – laughter triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter can do wonders for your immune system, diminish pain, and insulate your soul from the unforgiving effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine if fun, free, and easily accessible. I can readily attest that laughter binds people together, increases happiness and intimacy, and strengthens team dynamics.

Granted, there are times when humor is best kept in the hip pocket (spoken from experience!).  However, I’ve developed a fool-proof solution by starting a tradition…

Every Friday afternoon for the past year and a half I’ve been walking the floors of our agency asking two questions, “Moment of Zen?” or “Ready for Friday joke time?” The joke doesn’t have to be great (the ones I make up are usually corny or punny). You can use a joke you’ve heard from your kids, or a one from the back of a cereal box. It’s doesn’t matter, as long as you commit to the telling, they invariably get a chuckle. Sometimes a solid guffaw. And even a rare holy grail of joy– the full-on belly laugh.

Whatever the response, you can say, “I’m out” and quickly exit stage left. Yup, always leave your teammates smiling. 


FRANK BARTCO

VP, Account Director
Proponent of bettering the world through hard work. And comic relief.