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Fun. It’s usually not the first word that comes to many people’s mind when they describe their workplace. I think there are two possible influences for this. The first might be how we were raised. My parents never went to college, and worked extremely hard to raise four healthy children, and one special needs child, my oldest sister. Even though I grew up in a wonderful loving home, there wasn’t a lot of laughter. There was a serious daily hum of responsibility. It took my son, Patrick to teach me about fun.
The second influence around having fun is the kind of business we are in. Many of the patients and families who visit our facilities are stressed or worried, or gathering their courage for what is inevitable. And so, for our patient’s sake, we honor them with respect and a seriousness appropriate for the situation. In healthcare there is also a growing pressure to continuously improve and innovate. All this adds up to a lot of stress. Thank goodness for the joy of labor and delivery suites!
So why is fun a serious issue? Because, when we laugh our bodies release endorphins. We have access to a chemical in the body 10 times as powerful as morphine and all it takes to release it is a big belly laugh. Laughing temporarily increases our metabolism so we burn more calories. Humor can even help us tolerate pain. These are just the health benefits, but the work benefits are equally impressive.
Dr. David Abramis from Cal State Long Beach has studied the effect of fun on the workplace and says that fun releases people’s creativity, improves decision-making, helps build relationships, and causes people to have fewer sick days.
So, go bowling, commit to smiling more and build some fun into your week. Share some of the ways you have added fun to your routine at work or at home, and the first 25 people to respond on the blog will receive a $5 Starbuck’s gift card. (Don't forget to include an email address or name -- if you are an employee -- so I know how to send you that gift card.)