Starting a small business usually means lots of long hours, a few disappointments and wearing many hats. But a sense of humor can help lighten the load.

Indeed, studies prove it. Although you probably don’t need scientific data to convince you, the University of Missouri does offer some. UM reveals positive humor should result in a happier workplace. Meanwhile, the University of Florida’s study shows humor in the workplace can boost employee productivity.

“In the business world, many successful organizations such as Zappos, Virgin, and Google, deliberately build play areas into their workspaces and organize fun events with the intent that the humor arising from these events will ameliorate the stressful nature of work, boost morale, and increase productivity,” according to the Association of Psychological Science.

Need more convincing? A Quickbooks study reveals a sense of humor can reduce sick days, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, reduces burnout and boosts creative thinking. Even if you work alone, you can find ways to incorporate humor into the daily grind with vendors, clients and others. If nothing else, get a joke book and watch some funny videos.

Psychological scientists David Cheng and Lu Wang of the University of New South Wales discovered people who view a funny video clip spent twice as long working on tedious tasks than people wo watched other neutral or positive videos. That may explain all the cute cat videos on YouTube.

“Humor is not only entertaining but also replenishing. Individuals engaging in activities that require persistence may benefit from exposure to humor,” the scientists reported. “There has been increasing recognition that humor may have a functional impact on important behaviors in the workplace and that exposure to humor may increase the effectiveness of employees,” the scientists reported.”

Even though business is a serious matter, Barbara Weltman and Jerry Silberman, authors of Small Business Survival Book: 12 Surefire Ways for Your Business to Survive and Thrive, urge you not to take yourself too seriously.

“Keep things light and you’ll enjoy yourself more. You’re bound to face disasters, but if you can laugh a little, things won’t seem so bad,” they say. “You don’t have to be Jay Leno, Chris Rock, or Ellen DeGeneres to have a sense of humor and incorporate it into your daily activities. Just keep things light. Resorting to humor about yourself and your situation can provide a number of benefits.”

Beyond the benefits we’ve already outlined, the authors offer several more:

• Humor raises hope.

• Humor improves communication.

• Humor helps you put mistakes into perspective so you can move on.

• Humor can help you accept change.

With that in mind, let me leave you with a joke I found on SterlingFunding.com:

Fresh out of business school, the young man answered a want ad for an accountant. Now he was being interviewed by a very nervous man who ran a small business that he had started himself.

“I need someone with an accounting degree,” the man said. “But mainly, I’m looking for someone to do my worrying for me.”

“Excuse me?” the accountant said.

“I worry about a lot of things,” the man said. “But I don’t want to have to worry about money. Your job will be to take all the money worries off my back.”

“I see,” the accountant said. “And how much does the job pay?”

“I’ll start you at 80,000.”

”Eighty thousand dollars!” the accountant exclaimed. “How can such a small business afford a sum like that?”

“That,” the owner said, “is your first worry.”