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April Fools out of the box - Kressnig

drawing by Anton Kressnig

Today is April Fools’ Day. All over the world there are people playing pranks on friends, relatives and colleagues as they try to fool them with stories and stunts. Even the news media gets into the act – Westjet Airlines announced this morning they were switching to “metric time” in an effort to simplify their arrival and departure schedules. I am here to tell you this kind of nonsense is just the thing we need every day of the year, to keep our good humour up and ensure we relieve stress on a regular basis. And no, I’m not kidding 🙂

April Fools WOW Washing of the Lions London

This actual ticket from 1857 advertised the washing of the lions at the Tower of London. Although the ticket mentions offering a gratuity to the staff doing this tricky task, the event did not really take place. (There is no word on how many showed up, though.)

The tradition of a day of foolishness goes all the way back to the Roman festival of Hilaria, and it is widely believed that the beginning of such a day comes from Iran, where the custom began in 536 B.C. In Scotland they have the Hunt for the Gowk Day, and France has their April Fool’s Fish (poisson d’Avril).  So you see, humour and nonsensical fun have no cultural boundaries; they benefit everyone. Do you need more convincing?

How about the fact that laughter lengthens your life? It’s true. These are actual results from true studies on the effects of laughter to our system:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Silly behaviour is also a great team-building exercise. If your team members are comfortable making fools of themselves in front of their colleagues then they can also trust others to pull pranks in good humour, with only heartfelt laughter as the goal and no malice. This is a great way to build relationships with your team and encourage their creativity as well.

So, set up regular Fools’ Days at work! Let people trust each other to be silly. It will keep them motivated and help them keep their positive momentum even during hectic busy times. Sometimes you can even let your customers in on the joke. They will enjoy the laugh and the fact that you have brought them into your inside circle.

In case you need a few ideas to get going, here is a selection of great pranks:

Happy April Fools’ Day!

April Fools WOW Ballooning the boss