This Is the Secret to Happiness at Work

laughter collage[Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Real Simple.]

Here at Real Simple, we pride ourselves on being the Every-woman brand. There are magazines and websites in our world that are full of self-admiration, with a lot of “Look at us and how very, very fabulous we are” moments: The exclusive parties! The expensive cocktails! The chic clothes! To which we say (to quote my mother): Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. Of course we, too, go to parties and drink cocktails and really, really love clothes. But you don’t need us to trumpet that. After all, Real Simple is for you.

There is one thing I do feel is worth trumpeting, however, and that’s how well we function as a team. There are many reasons for this, but part of our success comes from the fact that we are, by and large, a happy bunch. Walk the halls of Real Simple and you hear chatter and, on really good days, the high-pitched squeal of a visiting child. (Parents on staff know that I will come flying out of my office for a peek when I hear that one.) And there is laughter. Lots of laughter.

Why do humans laugh?

• Because it activates the same pleasure sensors in the brain that are triggered when we eat chocolate.
• Because it seems to stimulate the release of endorphins, which reduces the perception of pain.
• Because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol and so enhances our ability to remember.

Best of all, says Sally Wadyka, the writer of “You Just Gotta Laugh” in our July 2014 issue, “the propensity to laugh has been scientifically linked to positive personality traits, such as likability and creativity.”

Ahhh. That explains a lot about the Real Simple staff. And so when we were looking for “models” to illustrate the story, we thought, Why look any further than our own floor?

Allow us for a moment to celebrate ourselves, as it were, and introduce the 34 members of the Real Simple editorial staff who were willing to stand in front of a seamless background for photographer Glenn Glasser and just…laugh. These are some of my favorite people in the world, and I urge you to get to know them better. To learn what makes them laugh, click here.

If you want to hear more from me, you can follow me @kvanogtrop on Twitter and Instagram.


  1. Kay Schutz

    I am writing here because I can think of no other way to contact Ms. van Ogtrop. Several months ago, you described nostalgia for things from our youth. You mentioned Jean Nate’.
    Coincidentally, I had just come across a body lotion which took me back at once. It is Bath & Body Works Signature Collection White Citrus Body Lotion. Just in case you want some.
    p.s. It would be really nice to have a way to contact staff in an open-ended, and not canned, way. Thank you.

    August 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

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