Humor, Seriously Book Summary - Humor, Seriously Book explained in key points
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Humor, Seriously summary

Jennifer Aaker & Naomi Bagdonas

Why Humor Is a Superpower at Work and in Life (And How Anyone Can Harness It. Even You.)

4.1 (388 ratings)
23 mins
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    Humor, Seriously
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    Humor is a learned skill, and it’s benefits are myriad.

    Let’s start by considering what might be holding us back. Often, it’s because we’re worried that we’re not funny or that our jokes are going to fall flat. Sometimes we don’t think we’re particularly entertaining and our friends and family don’t think we’re funny – the author’s kids sure didn’t. And you can’t even learn funny, so what’s the point? 

    The point is, none of that is true. You don’t need to be a comedian to have levity, to understand the value of humor and bring some sincerity to a situation. And no one is born funny! Except maybe those babies who try lemon for the first time. Humor can be present without comedy and it’s a skill that you learn, adapt, and grow over time. 

    According to the results from a Gallup survey of 1.4 million people across 166 countries, the frequency at which we laugh or smile drops significantly once we hit 23. Which is sad, because as kids we laugh all the time! But then as we grow up and enter the workforce, we seem to lose our sense of play. There is the very real pressure to be “professional.” But why should professional mean überserious? 

    The lack of levity and laughter in life and in work is causing us to miss out on so much of the good stuff. The good stuff, you ask? Let’s take a look at the science. 

    “Laughter is the best medicine” isn’t just a phrase. It’s true! Laughter has been scientifically proven to benefit you both physically and emotionally. When we laugh, our brains release a cocktail of hormones. We get endorphins which give us that euphoric feeling we might have after exercise. We get a big release of dopamine that makes us feel happier. Oxytocin, the “love hormone,” is also released, which makes us more trusting. And our cortisol levels are lowered, which means we’re a whole lot less stressed. In short, according to the authors, laughter is like exercising, meditating, and having sex all at once. How great! And it’s HR approved! 

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    What is Humor, Seriously about?

    Humor, Seriously (2021) explores the value of a human-centered approach to business, and of the funny that can be found and created in any environment. It relies on science, psychology, and humorous anecdotes from experts in the field to show how using humor can create a culture of levity, build trust, and unlock creativity.

    Who should read Humor, Seriously?

    • Leaders looking to build trust
    • Managers who want to enhance creativity
    • Anyone seeking more joy in work and life

    About the Author

    Dr. Jennifer Aaker is a leading expert on how purpose and meaning shape individual choices. Her work has been widely published in leading scientific journals, and featured in the Economist, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and Science. She counts winning a dance-off in the 1980s as one of her greatest feats.

    Naomi Bagdonas, a Stanford professor, facilitates interactive sessions for leaders, Fortune 100 companies, and nonprofits. She also coaches executives and celebrities for appearances on shows ranging from Saturday Night Live to Today. Her constant stream of foster dogs describe her as gullible and full of treats.

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