“The human race has one effective weapon, and that is laughter.”  Mark Twain

Loud laughter fills the room and lingers.  Before the audible merriment subsides, he quickly fires away with another joke. Gaining momentum, the laughter now seems to perpetuate itself. Classic Gary!  I am in the audience enjoying these magical moments.

We are meeting at Hackbarth Delivery Service (HDS) headquarters in the conference room. This segment of the corporate training program for new managers within our company is led by Gary Smith, a 10-year plus veteran. His title is Project Management Director, but I like to call him ‘the Analyst’ – a consequential position generally not associated with comical antidotes. But, here I am with the seven new HDS trainees laughing at Gary’s jocular remarks.  And, he is funny. Very funny!

Initial corporate training sessions last an entire week. Our trainers represent several departments:  Human Resources,  Accounting and our Service Center. Executives are involved. And, yes, as owner of the company and as a member of the board of directors, I participate in our top-of-the-industry training program.

Training material covers a variety of subjects. Some topics are quite serious, such as financial projections being presented by Gary.  Humor seems to be part of our approach. While jollity makes our training program more enjoyable, there is another important reason for creating laughter:  Inserting humor throughout our program is a tactic that increases the opportunity for success. And, there is science to support this fact.

Science and technology writer David DiSalvo, author of Brain Changer, summarizes the research on humor in his short readable article, Six Science-Based Reasons Laughter is the Best Medicine.

 He lists these six reasons:

Laughter releases endorphins

Laughter fosters brain connectivity

Laughter is central to relationships

Laughter protects your heart

Laughter creates social bonds

Laughter creates effect similar to antidepressants

Wow! The combined effects of humor in action is a powerful success formula.

Improved health – great relationships – these results are important tools for success.

You may have heard the old familiar maxim, ‘laughing your way to the bank,’ used by grandparents and others in describing a wise decision that resulted in a positive financial return.  However, perhaps a newer and more pertinent phrase we could pass on is:

Laugh your way to success

Despite the absence of detailed research specific to humor, I have read conclusions in numerous articles. And I do believe in the science, in-part, because I have lived within some of the documented deductions. For example, laughter is central to relationships. I know this to be true, having lived a long time and having enjoyed many positive relationships. And positive healthy relationships are essential to any success we may want to enjoy in life. One particular long-term relationship – my marriage to Carol – provides personal confirmation. As one might surmise, a four-decades relationship has had some tough moments and tough times.  And yet, here we are over 40 years later in what can only be described as something more than just a good relationship – a great one. A very successful marriage replete with laughter.

We can look at our own lives and those around us for proof of the laughter connection essential in relationships. We do not need the science, do we?

Because Gary has been with HDS over 10 years, I have had opportunities  in getting to know him. And guess what? I rate at the highest level his effectiveness in customer relationships. He excels in this arena – one of our best – as demonstrated by the customer base he has developed, resulting in significant additional business for HDS. Gary has been an integral part in our company’s very successful journey.

Is humor the only reason for Gary’s exceptional ability in the area of relationships? No, there are other reasons.  But, I have to believe that humor is among the most important.

Everyone in the conference room is focused on Gary – waiting for his next salient thought. He continues his presentation by making an important point about a new tool being used for financial management in an operation. The trainees soak it in – no surprise. I, too, listen intently. Gary brilliantly uses his great sense of humor as an effective teaching tool. Another moment of levity is not far off. We will wait for that instant. While waiting, we pay close attention – not wanting to miss anything.  Sounds like success.

Today, I will laugh my way to success.

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