Don’t Stop Here

5 Tips From Clowns For Bringing More Joy To Your Workplace

Red Noses Clowndoctors International is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing humor and laughter to people in need of joy through visits from clowns. Founded in 1994, they are today one the largest clown doctor groups in the world, with partner organizations in ten countries. In 2019, 437 Red Noses clowns brought laughter to more than 569,000 people in 676 different medical and social institutions across the globe.

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Monica Culen is the cofounder and CEO of Red Noses. As a child, she didn’t like clowns at all. But in her early years, she was very sick and spent many weeks in a respiratory sanatorium. This meant lying still in bed, making no noise, having no visitors, and not being allowed to play with any stuffed toys. For weeks on end, she experienced nothing but loneliness, fear, and anxiety.

As an adult, Culen learned about Michael Christensen, the inventor of pediatric clown care. She felt inspired to set up something similar in Austria with the artist Giora Seeliger. The NGO has grown steadily ever since. Red Noses clown doctors visit sick children, senior patients, disabled children, and rehabilitation patients, as well as people in vulnerable situations around the world.

Culen knows that humor is one of the top five triggers for resilience and overcoming crises. Running her NGO has given her a great deal of experience relevant for the current Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession.

Here are Culen’s top 5 clown tips for encouraging more laughter and joy in your workplace:

1) Accept the situation. Clowns are masters of acceptance. When facing a problem, clowns look at it, accept that there is something unexpected, and deal with it. Even psychologists agree that after a shock such as the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, people need to come to the point where they integrate and accept the new situation in order to deal with it straight on.

2) Don’t take yourself too seriously. When things go as usual, instead of starting to feel impatient or even angry, laugh about it. Laughing gives you a healthy distance from your problems. As a result, you will be more generous and tolerant with your employees and make better decisions.

3) Focus on what works well. When clowns meet sick children and elderly people at their bedsides in hospitals and care facilities, they don’t focus on the illness – they focus on the individual’s healthy parts. Focus on what is working well in your business during the Covid crisis, rather than only on what’s going wrong. Appreciate it.

4) Talk about the elephant in the room. When kids are waiting for surgery in the hospital, they feel extremely tense. Clowns sensitively make this fear a topic of conversation and hold the space for any negative emotion, before thoughtfully shifting towards more positive and relaxing topics. Similarly, during the current pandemic, talking about the negative emotions your employees are feeling will help them to figure out how to react constructively.

5) Rediscover your happiness. Humor is not just about telling jokes or being childish all the time. Humor and clowning are really an attitude towards life. Be playful, be curious, be more spontaneous and creative. See how this increases your happiness and that of your employees.

Following these tips does not mean that you are taking a critical situation seriously. It’s about building your resilience. And the Covid-19 situation definitely challenges everybody’s resilience.

After recovering from her childhood illness, Culen was full of energy and an adventurous spirit. She served as the youngest Chief Hostess at the Olympic Games in Munich, worked in the PR department of the top-notch European business school INSEAD, and served as a protocol officer at the OPEC Fund for International Development in Vienna. Ever since founding Red Noses, Culen has worked “full speed all year round” for the non-profit.

In Culen’s opinion, you don’t “discover” life purpose. Rather your ife purpose happens to you. “If you keep your eyes open and you stay open, you will see what life wants you to do,” she says. “It is important to take the opportunities that arise and go with your flow. Whenever I go into the field to hospitals, geriatric homes, or in international crisis situations, I see people’s zest for life return. This is priceless. I know from deep down in my heart that I am living my purpose.”

Source: Forbes


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