For me, as I expect is the case for so many of us, this has been the most surreal period of my life…
I have had to find ways to manage the fears, challenges and emotions that I have faced during the pandemic so far. I have had to adapt and seek opportunities to learn new technical skills. I have started to practise gratitude and make mindfulness practice and reflection a routine part of my life. I have also recently started to explore the practice of stoicism – using techniques from the ancient philosophy to deal with setbacks and stresses of daily life: I have been using the lessons and guided meditations of William B. Irvine. I find this quote a helpful way to understand the stoic approach:
“the easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have”
― William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
All of these approaches have been helpful and a conscious choice. Rarely have I consciously thought about enjoying myself…or having fun….or whether I should even permit myself to have fun… or whether humour is even appropriate during these times of hardship.
Reflecting on the year, however, I can see that humour, through the highs and the lows, has been a key part of connecting with people, lifting my spirits, giving me hope and reinvigorating me – in both the work and private context. My outlook has rapidly changed when the day has been punctuated with laughter and thereby connection.
Connecting with people through (appropriate) humour has always been something I have naturally leaned to. I believe in enjoying and having fun at work. I believe it can improve well-being, bond the team, boost morale and, for me personally, has acted as a release during these difficult times.
Having fun, to me, is not necessarily about ‘joking around’ but having interesting and stretching goals and aspirations, being clear on how they fit in with the future, and working with people who have different perspectives from me. In fact, seeing how they view things can be enlightening, engaging and enjoyable. More than ever, I have really appreciated this part of my work.
As a coach, part of my role is to help clients gain different perspectives, think of new ideas and ways forward. This can, at times, be uncomfortable for them (and for me!). Blending my approach with encouragement and humour ensures my client is otherwise at ease, knows I am challenging them with good intent – as part of my aspirations for them – and also knows that any discomfort is temporary. The humour and rapport we have built helps them to tolerate any discomfort. I have also witnessed how much humour helps the client de-stress and therefore think more clearly and creatively.
As part of this blog, I googled ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and found numerous articles on the benefits of laughter to de-stress, boost mood, strengthen the immune system and bond with people…it can be contagious. It’s nothing new, but I believe remembering that finding enjoyment and fun whenever you can, can be particularly powerful during these extraordinary times.