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The Creative Mindset: Humour

Have you lost your sense of humour? Read on for tips on how to get it back!

How to know if you are taking yourself too seriously

According to Shola at The Positivity Solution, here are some telltale signs that you might be taking yourself a little too seriously:
  • You’re incapable of self-deprecating humor, being the butt of a lighthearted joke, or laughing at yourself.
  • You would never put yourself in a position where you could possibly look silly in front of others (singing karaoke, giving a presentation at the all-staff meeting, getting on the dance floor at a party/wedding, attempting to cook a fancy dinner for a group of friends, etc.)
  • You’re easily offended and take every little slight personally.
  • You’re overly image conscious and care way too much about stuff that doesn’t really matter (the car you drive, how “cool” people think you are, your job title, the amount of Twitter followers you have, etc.)
  • You need to have the last word in a discussion and you need to be right.
The irony is that when we take ourselves too seriously, often other people don't. 

How to get your sense of humour back

When we lighten up, we get our brain in a state that is more condusive to creativity.  Two neurotransmitters in our brain promote creativity. Serotonin moves us from anxiety and fear to calm and contentment. Dopamine moves us from boredom or apathy to excitement and engagement. According to Prof. *Shiv at Stanford,  the right neurochemical cocktail for our best creative work is a high level of both serotonin and dopamine. "This will produce a condition in which you are calm but energized," he says.
 
If you feel like you've lost your sense of humour, here are some ways to get it back:
  • start smiling again - even if you don't feel like smiling, by doing it your body sends signals to your brain stimulating your reward system, and further increasing your level of happy hormones, or endorphins.
  • laugh at yourself - try to find humour in some of your most embarrassing moments; imagine you are a character in a comedy; let your ego step down a little and allow yourself the humiliy of silliness
  • read comic books - my absolute favourite is Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson; I just love the clever wit and funny social commentary
  • spend time with kids - children take a light hearted approach to life and show us the way to lighten up; pay attention to how they observe things and let yourself be refreshed by how small things amuse them
  • do something silly each day - deliberately set out to do something silly or fun: play a prank on a family member, sing into your shower nozzle, make up conversation for your dog as it barks at other dogs
  • watch comedy shows - let yourself unwind and enjoy the clever humour of comedians as they unpack the week's news; my favourites are Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers and John Oliver for news; for sitcoms our family is loving The Goldbergs - priceless!
 
 

Apply rule number 6

 “Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: ‘Peter’, he says, ‘kindly remember Rule Number 6’, whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by a hysterical woman gesticulating widely, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: ‘Marie, please, remember Rule Number 6’. Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow, and an apology. when the scene is repeated fro the third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: ‘My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of the Rule Number 6? ‘Very simple’, replied the resident prime minister, ‘ Rule Number 6 is: Don’t take yourself so %#! damn seriously’. ‘Ah’, says his visitor, ‘that is a fine rule’. After a moment of pondering, he inquires: ‘And what, may I ask, are the other rules?’ ‘There aren’t any’.” 
 
 
Times are tough, but it's up to you what you do with your own mind. By lightening up and bringing humour back into your life, you will find yourself being more creative and better equipped to create solutions to your problems.
 
 
*Baba Shiv is a marketing professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Shiv's research focuses on the role neural structures play in decision making and economic behavior.
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