Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

In honor of April being National Humor Month, I’m sharing one of my favorite stories with you.

A guy in a bar says he has a talking dog. “Prove it,” says one of the regulars.

Guy turns to the dog and asks him, “What’s on the top of a house?

Dog replies “Roof, Roof.”

“Oh Come on,” says the regular.

Guy asks dog, “What’s on the outside of a tree?”

Dog says, “Bark, bark.”

Regular says “You must be kidding.”

Guy asks Dog, “Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?”

Dog Replies, “Ruth, Ruth.”

Regular laughs and says that’s no talking dog.

Dog turns to regular and says, “What, you think it should be DiMaggio?”

For years, that was how I opened every sales meeting, with a funny story or a joke, and I asked other managers to do the same. I just wanted to loosen up the group and put them in a good mood. Our employees know I love a good laugh. I value a sense of humor very highly when I am hiring people, especially for sales and customer service jobs. I wasn’t looking for the next Tina Fey or Jimmy Fallon.

Making work fun has taken on new importance, as workers return to offices after a couple of years of isolation. Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connections. Laughter keeps relationships fresh and exciting, while creating a positive bond that can defuse conflict and buffer disagreements. The more laughter you bring to your life, the happier you and the people around you will feel.

Laughter is cheap medicine. It distracts your attention, changes your attitude and outlook on life, causes relaxation and reduces tension, while increasing the body’s natural painkillers. Every time we laugh our stress level is lowered. In short, laughter improves your well-being.

“There ain’t much fun in medicine, but there’s a heck of a lot of medicine in fun,” said American humorist Josh Billings.

Humor seems to be on the decline. Recent events in the world may have taken some of the humor out of us. People feel the need to watch every word for fear of offending someone, and comedians are limited in what they can poke fun at lest they get “cancelled.” I suspect most folks don’t set out to be insensitive to others. But we seem to have lost the capacity to laugh at ourselves.

I believe humor is the secret to reaching and persuading other people. I would propose that we celebrate humor every single month, all year long. I can’t imagine a day without humor.

Northwestern University conducted a study many years ago that demonstrated the act of laughing massages the heart, stimulates blood circulation and helps the lungs breathe easier. Another test at Fordham University reinforced the conclusion that laughter benefits the heart, lungs, stomach and other organs.

I even saw one study that found that laughing for 10-15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories. It’s no replacement for going to the gym, but it could be enough to lose a few pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter is contagious. Ever notice that when a person yawns, someone else will yawn? It’s the same with laughing. When one person laughs, others laugh. Ditto with smiling. When you see someone smile, you want to smile.

Laughter is universal across almost all cultures. Laughter unites people from all walks of life.

Psychologist Robert Provine showed in his book “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation,” that you are 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than you are on your own.

So how do you get more laughter in your life?

Look for ways to create opportunities to laugh. Watch a funny movie or a TV show. There is a reason why some of the most popular TV shows in history were long-running comedies like “The Simpsons,” “The Office,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Ted Lasso.” And don’t forget YouTube videos.

Read! Check out cartoons in your local daily newspaper or online or check out the humor section at a bookstore. There are hundreds of joke sites online.

Spend time with children. Studies show that kids laugh about 200 times a day, whereas adults only laugh about 17 times. And kids say the darndest things.

Mackay’s Moral: Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life, but it will surely add life to your years.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.