“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” —Phyllis Diller
Do you ever get so busy that you start taking yourself too seriously?
You know what I mean. You’re so busy that when you do finally pause, you’re stressing about what hasn’t been done and you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. You feel so intent about what you have to do and think that everything will fall apart if you aren’t the one doing it.
But you know what? That’s exactly when it’s more important than ever to lighten up.
So if you feel like you don’t have time to lighten up, this post is for you.
Lighten Up for an Easy Win
In her article, Leading With Humor, Alison Beard writes, “Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.”
Lately, I’ve noticed how caught up I am about everything getting done. This is usually the first sign that I’m taking things too seriously.
It hit home one day when I was on the phone with Crystal, my business partner, talking about work. I could feel my stress mounting. After a bit, our conversation segued to other things and Crystal said something really funny. I can’t even tell you what it was specifically, but we both had a good laugh—the kind of laugh where you feel it throughout your whole body. When I got off the phone I noticed how different I felt. Like letting the excess pressure out of a rock-hard air mattress.
That’s when I realized that my laughter quota was way down.
For the next couple of weeks I paid attention, and consciously created times throughout the day to lighten up with laughter and playfulness. The results were that my productivity went up, and my stress level went down.
Talk about a win-win.
So with that in mind, here’s five easy ways that you can lighten up, too!
1. Smile, even when no one can see you
Smiling relaxes all of your facial muscles. When you smile on the phone, people can feel it, even if they can’t see it. Smiling is an energetic lift. It releases tension and relaxes your facial muscles and supports positive interaction with others.
2. Be open to distraction – in a good way
Get outside of yourself. Make conversation with the lady in the checkout line when getting groceries. Take time for connection with your co-workers. You never know what interaction will lift your spirits and make you feel good. For lightheartedness to happen you have to be open to engaging with the present moment.
3. Know what makes you laugh
What’s funny to you? Watch a comedy or look up your favorite comedian on YouTube to watch a short skit. Read something humorous. Sometimes, I stop and play with my cat for a few minutes. He always makes me feel good. The great thing about laughter and playfulness is the more you cultivate it in your life, the more naturally it comes to you.
4. Keep a reminder near your desk that makes you smile
It can be anything that’s funny or reminds you to be playful. President Kennedy used to play with his boyhood baseball glove at critical decision-making times. I have a sticky note that I can see from my workspace that simply says, “Lighten up.” When I read it, I remember to take a deep breath and smile.
5. When you finish something, celebrate
Acknowledge your accomplishments. We often rush from one thing to another without taking the time to feel good about what we completed. When I make a sale, I often call my business partner to let her know. It’s not because she needs to know I closed a sale at that exact moment, it’s because she acknowledges my success, and that feels amazing. Create a culture of celebration and lightheartedness in your workplace, and you’ll see the results, too!
We’d love to hear how you lighten up in your work environment. Please share your experience.