Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a celebration of life for someone who had passed away a few weeks ago. This individual had left quite a personal legacy: three wives, five children, nine grandchildren and many friends some of whom had known him for 50 years as well as a professional legacy in promoting and progressing wind as an alternative form of energy. Celebrations of life have started to replace religious funerals perhaps due to the various costs or to the fact that there is a decrease in the number of people who are affiliated with a particular religious faith or institution. The diversity of races, cultures and religions and the broad definition of gender, family and committed relationship has necessitated the need to be inclusive, respectful and accepting. As I viewed the three or more generations among the 60 people in attendance, I was struck by how much these individuals represented the changing trends in society whether it be multiple marriages, blended families, hair in bright neon colours or abundant piercings. Several of these celebrations that I have attended in recent years have made the most of technology and this one was no exception. There was a laptop that not only provided music and a slide show of photographs of the individual at various stages of his life but also two memorable videos and a positive and inspirational message that he wrote the day before discovering that his disease was terminal and that he had only months to live. He had instilled his love of music and theatre into his children. At the end of the celebration, each participant was given a copy of the words to “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles. Accompanied by a guitar, the whole group burst first tentatively and then loudly into song. The room was filled with an abundance of joy and connection. Whether they were family, friends or strangers at the start of the celebration, they were now strongly connected as one voice united in song and moved by the words and music. The energy in the room and the smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the song would be a lasting memory for all concerned.
This morning, I visited my favourite bookstore and encountered a group of 20 school children eagerly and excitedly involved in the activity of each choosing a book that would be their reading for the summer. Each branch of this bookstore chain has a class that they sponsor. The noise of the children’s laughter and chatter was energizing and mesmerizing. I remarked to the teachers and to the manager of the store that perhaps the offices upstairs should be visited by this group in order to energize their workplaces. While the response was that they might be noisy and distracting, they might be a warm and welcome break from the normal dull and boring work routine. Their appearance would bring many big smiles to tense and serious faces and a sense of joy and lightness to some normally intense and stressful work environments.
Three ideas to energize your workplace with song, laughter and chatter. First, gather together people who like to sing or who play an instrument and have weekly one-hour singalongs. Have each team in the department or organization take turns being responsible for choosing the songs that will be sung and producing copies of the words to the songs that will be sung. Second, organize a humour hour and invite those people who enjoy telling jokes or funny stories to share their talents with the rest of the department or organization. The jokes should be in good taste and not offend anyone. Finally, organize a Friday morning coffee klatch where employees can engage in face to face conversations about their work and lives over coffee/tea and healthy nibbles.