“Laughter is the best medicine,” goes the oft-repeated saying. But, although no one is denying the undeniably gratifying physical pleasure of having a good chuckle now and then, it turns out there’s more to it than that. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that humor and laughter can shift one’s mental perspective instantly and thus steers away any feelings of being overwhelmed, while also boosting immunity, lowering stress hormones and decreasing pain. Having a great mood is perhaps the greatest antidote to life’s myriad troubles, but gaining a positive look on things and then working to maintain it is often harder than it looks.
Enter Shareen Richter. An International “Laughter and Happiness Professor,” she specializes in building stress-free, happy companies and individuals. With her Laughter Coaching organization she helps to reduce negativity that stems from increased pressure at work and in life, by training people and teams on how to feel happier and “stress-less” thereby improving the quality of their lives. These key happiness tools and techniques are instrumental in developing coping mechanisms that can be used both in the workplace and in peoples private lives. Studies at Harvard have shown that happy people are more productive, effective and successful in every aspect of their lives and are proven to earn more money. Happier people have an expanded awareness allowing them to think more laterally and “out of the box.” When people feel good they are more innovative and creative, connect and work better as a team.
“What’s going on in business is that teams aren’t always working well together, people are operating in fear, they’re really nervous about their positions and their jobs,” says Richter. “When you’re in that kind of space, you can’t really operate as effectively as you would and productivity is affected.” And while companies are doing the best they can in order to aid their employees in coping with these issues by employing traditional stress management techniques, they are just not good enough.
“Because time is the most valuable commodity on earth and we’re a society of instant gratification, and we want to feel better and shifted immediately. Many traditional stress management or self help programs take time to implement and feel results.” But Richter maintains that emphasis should be put on introducing methods and techniques that are simple and easy to use in almost any situation, with lasting effects. The magic of Shareen’s laughter and happiness tools is found in their simplicity and accessibility at any given time. Shareen says, “When people want to feel better, they want to feel it now and not have to wait a week or two to feel the shift.”
Sessions with Shareen Richter’s Laughter Coaching can last anywhere from one hour to a full day. Whereas shorter sessions look and feel more like team-building seminars, longer ones are often more intense. “Everything that I use is based on medical science, on things that are proven to have a shift or effect on a person’s physiology and biochemistry,” claims Richter. Her workshops usually employ de-stress techniques and loads of happiness and laughter tools.
She takes participants on a journey helping them to understand the cognitive process behind laughter and all her tools, helping the attendants understand the complex relationship between the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and endorphins, on the one hand, and having a genuinely positive mood, on the other. She says this is crucial, “Because even though we teach things that are fun, people have to understand that they actually are shifting things internally and when people understand and know what the benefit will be to them directly, they then are more inclined to buy into the process and use these strategies afterwards.”
When it comes to cutting edge methods of infusing more happiness in the workplace, the reasons for doing so may differ slightly between the company’s leadership and its employees, but the ultimate goals are the same. From a management perspective, there is an innate desire to have cohesive, connected groups capable of maximizing productivity during work hours.
On the other hand, on the individual level, every given employee has to cope with a lot of different aspects in their private life, from illnesses to relationships to financial upheavals, which can often intrude in their work life and thus disrupt the continuity and cohesion of their respective teams. Because of the economic climate, many go to work with fear of losing their jobs, which can create a climate of misery at the workplace and reduce productivity in the long run.
By hiring a specialized consultant with a proven track record such as Shareen Richter, companies can ensure that their employees’ needs are being well taken care of, while at the same time reaping all the benefits of having a stress-free, happy environment where productivity can grow unencumbered. “I challenge the way people have been thinking. People are so focused on being stuck in being the victim, having the pity party, feeling sorry for themselves and focusing on the negative,” she professes assertively. Shareen Richter can be reached at http://www.laughtercoaching.co.za, promoting an active, joy-oriented and fun-filled lifestyle for all.