Karyn Buxman

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Archive for December, 2008

Press Release: 10 Tips for Finding Humor in Turbulent Times

I, along with members of The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, put together a list of fun-filled ideas to help you rise above the current economic turmoil.

It is my gift to you.  Happy Holidays!
10 Tips for Finding Humor in Turbulent Times                                                    

The economy is on its wildest ride in decades.  The line waiting for a government bail-out is almost as long as the line waiting to check-out in stores this holiday shopping season.  And, you’re simply at wits end in trying to deal with it all!

Fear not – there’s humor to be found amidst all of this chaos and confusion.  So says Karyn Buxman, Publisher of The Journal of Nursing Jocularity, from San Diego and incoming president of AATH – the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.  The mission of this growing, international community of professionals, founded in 1987, is to study, practice and promote healthy humor and laughter.

“The great thing about humor is it’s FREE and available to everyone,” says Buxman.  “It’s sugar-free, fat-free, salt-free, and tax-free!  It’s available 24-7 and you don’t need a prescription!  There’s no assembly required and you don’t need batteries!  It’s environmentally friendly, and best of all, it’s socially contagious!”

Healthy, therapeutic humor enhances relationships, is non-hostile, sympathetic, benevolent, tolerant, and often philosophical.  AATH is careful to distinguish it from hurtful, harmful humor that is more aggressive, critical, sarcastic, cruel, often based on put-downs, and involves laughing at someone else’s expense.

AATH has generated the following list of 10 tips to help you lighten up and rise above the current economic turmoil and stress of the holiday season:

1.  Adjust Your Attitude – Stop watching the news and start counting your blessings instead of your money!  The blessings will increase, while the money is…well, you know!

2.   Make Someone Else Happy – Send unexpected ‘thank you’ or greeting cards to a mix of people.  Start with those who aren’t expecting it but deserve it. Then, send a couple to people who aren’t expecting and don’t deserve it.  Then, pick a couple names at random out of the phone book that certainly aren’t expecting it and have no idea who you are!

3.  Signs of the Times – Have some mirthful signs or sayings handy.  For example:
– The rules have changed… there are none!
– Walking on water is in my job description!
– Apparently, not all clowns are in the circus!
– Never wrestle with a pig – you both get dirty, but the pig likes it!
– You don’t have to be crazy to work here…but it sure helps!
– If we’re closed, just slide the money under the door!
– I’m not weird… I’m gifted!

4.  Try Some Random Acts of Silliness and Kindness – Wear mismatched gloves or socks… on purpose!  Page yourself over the intercom!  If and when a store clerk, restaurant server or flight attendant asks matter-of-factly “How are you today?” try replies such as, “Well medicated – and you?” or “At least I’m vertical!”  Instead of them always thanking you, thank them first and watch their reaction!

5.  Fun with Food – Put a bag of cookies or marshmallows in your briefcase.  Then, start your meeting by asking, “Dessert, anyone?”  Have a marshmallow stacking competition!  Put a pack of bubble gum in your coat pocket and, in the elevator, offer some to everyone!

6.  Pop Goes Your Worries – Save your bubble wrap!  It’s a great stress reliever.  Pop it with your fingers, knees and toes!  Dance on it!  Pop it with the help of young children!  Pop it, in unison, to the beat of music!

7.  Use Your Imagination – Think of what would happen if certain companies merged.  For example: Fairchild Semiconductor and Honeywell Corporation would become Fairwell Honeychild.  Grey Poupon and Docker Pants would become Poupon Pants.  If FedEx joined UPS, they might become FedUP.

8.  Rename to Keep Sane – Cash Flow: The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.  Broker: What I am today, after taking the advice of my financial planner.  P/E Ratio: The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

9.  Exaggerate – Comedians overstate things to get a laugh.  You can too!  Our family is so poor these days… we took out a second mortgage on our cardboard box.  Our family is so poor these days… to save on milk, we eat our corn flakes with a fork.  Our family is so poor these days… when someone rings the doorbell, I stick my head out the window and yell, “Ding-Dong.”

10.  Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella – This simple choice is yours.  You can frown and be miserable (way too many people readily choose this option), or you can wear a contagious smile.  In your conversations with people, smile and ask to see their smile.  Then say, “I see you’ve been practicing!”

For more information contact AATH or Karyn Buxman at 858-456-1874.

Posted in: Business

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Tap Those Creative Juices!

“I’m brain dead,” my pal, Sheila, moaned over her coffee at our break. “I wouldn’t recognize a fresh idea if it jumped in my face and wiggled. I’m just not creative. Am I too left-brained? Where do you get all your ideas?”

What is creativity? Like humor, it’s a mindset, a process, a way of looking at things. Researchers once believed that creativity was found primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain; they believed “right-brained” people were more creative. Now researchers speculate that creativity involves both hemispheres, that it’s a combination of both analytic and intuitive thought.

Are you a creative person? Why is it that as children we’re able to tap into our natural creative abilities only to be stymied later as adults? Perhaps it’s because we’re taught early on to be logical, to look for the one right answer, and to be serious.

As we grow older, our creative tendencies are squelched.  I believe we can re-learn creativity and get back in touch with our natural abilities. Here are 5 tips to help you get back in touch with the wealth of imaginative, inventive and artistic ideas inside of you.

1) Break habits. Have you ever found yourself or your coworkers doing things only because “that’s the way it’s always been done”? We perform many of our daily tasks without even thinking about them. While this can be helpful at times, it can also be a means of blocking creative thought. Break your routines. Roger von Oech, expert on creative thinking, terms this giving yourself “a whack on the side of the head.” Try sleeping on the opposite side of the bed. Take the scenic route home. Try a new seating arrangement at the dinner table. Listen to a style of music that’s not familiar to you (Country? Opera? Rap?).  Eat dessert first.  These simple jolts in your routine can lead you to new ideas.

2) Ask why. Children are naturally curious. Anyone who has even been around toddlers knows their list of “whys” goes on and on. “Why do dogs bark?”  “Why is the sky blue?”  “Why do I have freckles?” To answer any question only leads to another question. Yet adults are quick to respond with the right answer.  Period. End of discussion. Try being open minded. Instead of assuming the right or most logical answer, ask why. See what new thoughts this provokes.

3) Look for unlikely connections.
It’s customary for us to think in terms of logical connections. But to break out of this line of reasoning, think of “what if.” What if men could become pregnant? What if clothing was edible? What if cars could be fueled with food? Items that we take for granted were once someone else’s “what if”: What if stairs could move (escalators); what if you could combine phones with copy machines (faxes); what if you could cook food without heat (microwaves). One beer company aired a tremendously successful ad campaign by combining unlikely objects and events, such as sumo wrestling with high diving or cows on surfboards. Ridiculous? Exactly! And these commercials made their product memorable to their viewers.

4) Take risks. Many folks are afraid of coming up with creative or unusual ideas because they don’t want to look foolish. Others have been rewarded for years for coming up with the “right answer” and fear coming up with the “wrong answer.” Samuel Smiles once said, “He who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Creative persons are willing to risk appearing foolish or silly. It takes a strong self-esteem to risk being different or to risk failure. Believe in yourself and be a risk taker. And reward your children or coworkers for taking a leap of faith with an imaginative idea.

5) Take time to play. Like creativity, humor is a mindset, a perspective, a way of looking at things. Children are naturally creative. One reason is that they are playful with their ideas. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.” Try putting your next problem-solving meeting in a JEOPARDY format. Begin a budget meeting with a joke or funny story from each participant. Hold a theme day where everyone wears a goofy hat. No one thinks twice about scheduling time for work, but many consider play frivolous. And yet, a light and playful attitude stimulates creative thought that can actually increase productivity.

I can’t think of a single occupation that couldn’t benefit from some creative thoughts and fresh ideas.  Businesses move ahead by innovation. The ability to be creative and innovative lies within you. Take that first step now and experience the benefits of humor and creativity today.

Posted in: Business

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On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

I absolutely love being self-employed. I’ve been my own boss for almost twenty years now. But if I were ever going to punch a clock for someone else ever again, I think I found where I would want to work: Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I had the opportunity to visit their facility outside of Chicago last week—they knocked my socks off!

When you arrive at CTCA you are greeted by a couple of valet attendants, who for no fee (won’t even accept a tip) park your car for you and escort you inside. When you enter, immediately you begin to feel the warm energy emanating from this place. On the wall to your left, a brass tree with leaves baring the names of patients who have celebrated at least 5 years of life since arriving. You then pass a large aquarium with beautiful fish on your left and a beautiful atrium with plants and soothing music to your right. A friendly person at the reception desk greets you and quickly determines how to best suit your needs.

The hospital looks more like a hotel (The Ritz, not the Super8), with heavy wooden doors and molding on all the wings, attractive carpeting beneath your feet and beautiful artwork and heartwarming pictures in all the hallways. Rarely will you hear an overhead page (“It disturbs the sleep of our patients,” I was told.)

CTCA boasts the finest state of the art equipment, but what really makes them special isn’t the high tech—it’s the high touch. The founder, Richard Stevenson, created CTCA based upon what he calls the Mother Standard® of care. In the 1980s his beloved mother developed bladder cancer and he searched across the country for someplace that would give her the care he felt she deserved. Finding none, he determined that he would create a place, himself. Each person would be treated with the same unconditional support, warmth and respect that one would want for their own loved one, because everyone is someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son.

Katherine Puckett, PhD and Director of Mind Body Medicine at CTCA is one of the most down-to-earth folks I’ve ever met. She told me of a time when she was seeing a patient in her office. Katherine apologized for the piles of reports and files that lay on her desk. The patient smiled and said that he found her office comforting, then explained, “It’s evident that you place people before paperwork.” That’s the mindset in this place—how comforting!

CTCA offers a comprehensive and integrative approach to fighting cancer. Traditional tools for fighting cancer such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are combined with complementary therapies including nutritional support, physical therapy, pain management, naturopathic medicine, spiritual support and mind-body medicine. This enables patients to better tolerate the treatments which can kill the cancer, but can also be devastating to their physical and mental health.

On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of AmericaOne of the approaches used in the Mind-Body Department is humor and laughter. Dr. Puckett and several other staff members took training several years ago to become Certified Laughter Leaders (CLLs). Since then, numerous other staff have been trained and now laughter therapy, or Laughter Clubs are offered regularly for patients and their families. Participants come away feeling healthier, happier and more energized.

Kudos to the folks at CTCA. They get it. The patient is the focus of all that is said and done. Like I said, I’m not really looking for a job, but if I were, I hope I could make the cut. It would be a real privilege to work among such great people.

Posted in: Healthcare

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