Humor is a Way of Life
During the childhood of many current university students, a great number of people lost their jobs during the Asian financial crisis, and many of them lived through hardships. In their high school days, they lived in "a triangle of death." The SAT (the government-sponsored Scholastic Aptitude Test), academic reports, and essay style examinations. However, it is quite possible that, in spite of overcoming all these obstacles, they will eventually be frustrated by the reality of finding a job. Even when many of them get jobs, their work places may not be what they wanted, or they could even be temporary. To survive these gloomy realities, you can use humor to stabilize your psyche and grow as a healthy member of society. We want to examine how humor can effect our lives, and how the demand for humor has increased in society and business. We are also interested in how humor has become a competitive aspect of society.
Humor is not simply constituted with a smile in the 21st century. According to the dictionary, the definition of humor is not making others laugh, but making life enjoyable. It also can play a role in diffusing tension. Humor includes sarcasm and practical joking. Daniel Pink, who wrote the book, Comes a New Future said "The power of humor is to see what is new. Humor itself is changing the framework of the fixed idea. To follow a new challenge in the 21st century, humor will be the new power." Actually, in America's political world humor holds a high position. For instance, many American presidents have humor writers. Humor is of great help to American students in education. In the New York Bethlehem Junior High School, there is a humor class for one hour every week to help increase the students' creativity.
In Korea, the perception of humor has changed. 2,000 opinion leaders, such as government officials, CEOs, pastors, priests, other religious leaders, lawyers, doctors and politicians, develop humor on internet sites. This is a recent trend as many people now view a sense of humor as a form of elegance. Due to these changed perceptions, Myongji Graduate School of Humor Therapy was established. According to a survey conducted by the Samsung Economic Research Institute, about 50.9 percent of CEOs said they consider humor carefully in job interviews.
Humor Plays a Role in Healthcare
In modern times there are many things troubling university students. The YU Student Counseling Center has done research into student concerns. The results of the research shows that most students are concerned about: life after graduation (52.7%), studying (23.9%), and aptitude for their major (9.5%). Students also worry about living and family, dating, and other personal relationships. The YU Student Counseling Center often uses humor when counseling students to induce a positive mood for the students. For example Shin (23), who received counseling for a family problem, said "When I first met the counselor I was so hesitant to talk about my problems and it was a hard thing, but the counselor used humor so it was a little easier to talk about my problems. I think humor can be used to reduce stress." Michael Titze, author of Humor Strategy wrote that humor is used to relieve tension, reduce stress, educate, and for character formation. Humor leads to seeing problems from different angles so that they seem smaller and more manageable.
Humor can also be helpful for treating mental disorders. Reducing stress and anxiety helps reduce mental difficulties. Nowadays, experts in laughter therapy are health care specialists. Laughter therapy not only gives treatment to patients physically, psychologically, and spiritually, but also after a diagnosis of social pathology, it can help to rehabilitate their condition and rebuild their confidence. Some actual results using this therapy show reduced anxiety, depression and pain, as well as improved immune system function and learning. The humor effect is not only mental but physical. Humor can relieve tension, improve blood circulation, and produce serotonin, a hormone that produces a sense of well being.
Humor is an Element of Competitive Power in Society
Another major advantage to having a good sense of humor is gaining a competitive edge. Many students prepare for their future jobs using humor. Mr. Lee, a student(28) said, "First, I study for the TOEIC test and try to do other things to improve myself in order to prepare for getting a job. Although I have not studied humor, I think that humor is very important in a job interview. I try to use my wit when I answer a question, and hopefully I will remain in the interviewer's memory. I also think humor is important in relationships." Many people believe that wit and humor can play an important role in a job interview. In 2008, the Samsung Economic Research Institute surveyed 631 CEOs to see if they considered humor when hiring employees. Half of them (50.9%) answered that they see most applicants attempt to use humor during their interviews. During a 1 on 1 interview or discussion interview, witty humor can change the atmosphere and is an effective way to communicate.
Humor can have an impact on management as well as employees. This is called humor management. This is a new strategy for companies in the 21st century. Humor management is similar to fun management. The company creates an enjoyable atmosphere for employees in order to improve morale. Voluntary participation and concentration leads to improved creativity. In other words, a different strategy using humor as a foundation for management can create a healthy and productive work environment.
The history of humor as an academic subject is short and the supply of humor in society is insufficient. At Myongji Graduate School of Humor Therapy, the purpose is to organize humor academies and to train humor specialists. Professor Jae-Sun Lee said "Humor can help people cope with hardships and adversities in life. In other words, humor can be the highest form of enlightenment. A person who is suffering through adversity can cope with life cheerfully and laugh at irony. Therefore, we must first learn how to laugh at the world instead of looking at it scornfully."
The Myongji Graduate School of Humor Therapy hopes to graduate students who will be able to use humor as laughter care specialists in the fields of sociology, healthcare, and education. We asked a Myongji Graduate School of Humor Therapy student their opinion about humor. The student, Yuan-Sook Sung said that after graduating she found stability in her life and felt encouraged and confident. Humor can be like a lubricant in a relationship. Humor is needed in life and work. She said, "Humor can give energy to leadership, and everyone has the ability to get over hard relationships using humor. The most powerful use of humor is using it to deal with difficult situations." Finally, she thinks the power of humor is not a physical force but a gentle guide.
Sang-Jun Lee runs the dignity humor site (www.opinity.co.kr) where people can learn about dignity humor and the use of wisdom. This site includes recent trends and current issues in the use of humor. Mr. Lee said, "Dignity humor excludes obscene conversations, foul language, and abuse. Humor does not mean that we should laugh at mean gags." He also lectures about humor at Seoul National University, Korea Electric Power Corporation, Hyundai Department Stores, and other businesses and public institutions for education. The reason he is asked to lecture in many places is that there is an increasing recognition that humor plays an important role in social life and work.
We asked him how he defines dignity humor to students in their 20's. He said "Humor is a tool for students in their 20's that can be used to help them in school and in finding a job. Students who feel desperate and are pressed by the reality of having to find employment feel more comfortable if they can use humor to change their attitude."
Jin-Seong Choi (Eraepo Network Co, president) who first learned about dignity humor on the dignity humor site, said that humor is wealth and authority. He said he wanted to learn about dignity humor in order to make a positive and active company. In other words, he wanted to use "Fun Management" in his company. He said "The company employees and I became more familiar and their performance has also improved a great deal. Employees who apply their sense of humor are more effective at work than employees who do not." He is the company boss, so we asked him "Do you actually see the elements of humor when you conduct an employee interview?" He answered "I think better of a candidate when they show a witty sense of humor." Finally we asked him, "What do you think about humor?" He said "When I use humor, I feel my mind is unburdened so I think humor gives me self-growth." Finally he said "Humor is essential in order to be flexible in our country so humor will be a source of power and wealth in the future."
Myong Ji Graduate School of Humor Therapy professor Jae-Sun Lee said "I think that humor has a bright future. Currently, many companies improve their image and efficiency of their operation by using humor." They think humor plays a role in the vitality of life especially in times like these when the economy is down.
In recent years, the world has seen the need for humor leadership and creativity because of the global financial crisis and the creation of a flexible culture. The book, Ability to Cope With Crisis = Humor Leadership, represents why we need humor. Jack Welch, author of the book, wrote the ability of the elements of humor and determination to deal with a crisis. Jack Welch emphasizes humor leadership because there is a need for strength of mind in crisis situations. When a decision needs to be made on important issues, a good leader thinks simply, wisely, and enjoys humor.
Humor has competitive power. It has the power not only to have a positive effect mentally, but is also a basic need in society. Students have to prepare for employment and emotional stability in life. Through humor you can improve the management of your company. When you are in an interview, you can use your sense of humor to your advantage and be more memorable. Therefore you should not just try to be funny. You should develop a competitive sense of humor. Although you may have many difficulties in life, you can have a little more fun and release a lot of stress by using humor. Through humor, you can enjoy your life more wisely and with a smile.