Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

Archive for August, 2013

Grati-tweets & Grati-texts – And Other Ways to Express Gratitude (A High-Tech Approach!)

My alarm clock didn’t go off. Someone had already used up all the hot water before I could take my shower. We’d run out of coffee (gasp!). And to top it all off… my “fat pants” were feeling a bit snug—aaaaaauuuuggghhhhhh! This was shaping up to be a miserable morning. I heard my phone chime and my heart skipped a beat. Had I gotten my times mixed—was I late for work? I snatched my phone off the table and saw the text:

“I just wanted you remind you how amazing you are and how grateful I am that you’re in my life.”

My eyes got teary and my heart swelled. My sister, a busy physician three time zones away, had taken 30 seconds out of her busy schedule and had changed the course of my entire day.

Studies have shown that one way of increasing your happiness setpoint is to practice being grateful. Studies vary slightly in their findings, but in a nutshell, writing down three things daily will raise your level of happiness more than writing down a list of items your grateful for weekly. Sharing your gratitude or appreciation with another person boosts your happiness level even more.

And get this! In one study, people who focused on gratitude rather than hassles felt more optimistic about their future, felt better about their lives and even did an average of 1.5 more hours of exercise a week. (So I can be happier and shed the fat pants!)

In this fast-paced, high-tech world, it may seem unrealistic to try to squeeze in one more task on your to-do list. Instead of switching from high-tech to high-touch, you can be high-tech AND high-touch! Take 30 seconds to practice “Grati-text.” Think of someone who has made a real difference in your life, and shoot them a text telling them so.

Being happier has lots of benefits that go beyond just feeling better. You can be healthier, more creative, more productive, and people may find you more attractive! (Really!) So here are five more ways to practice High-Tech/High-Touch methods of gratitude so that you’ll be happier and healthier right away.

Here are 7 quick High-Tech AND Hi-Touch ways to express your gratitude:

1. Express your gratitude in what I call a Grati-tweet (a tweet that expresses gratitude): 140 characters or less of your appreciation via Twitter.

2. Whip out your phone and send a Grati-text (A text message that expresses gratitude): Tell them how much you appreciate them and why.

3. Use the video function on your phone to record your thanks in less than 30 seconds. Then email, text it or post it on Facebook.

4. Record a video of gratitude and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo.

5. Send an e-card to someone that says “I appreciate you.”

6. Leave a short voicemail for that special someone letting them know how special they are.

7. Create a playlist of songs that express your feelings of appreciation and upload on the recipient’s iPod, phone, or other device.

Speaker, author, and neurohumorist Karyn Buxman, is committed to achieving global health through laughter and healing the humor impaired. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for more tips on how humor and positive emotions can help you achieve success, significance and happiness.

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When Women Laugh

Women are the world’s best multi-taskers. We have to be. Look at our schedules. If we took the typical woman’s day – especially if she’s a member of the Sandwich Generation, caring for her children and her parents – and calculated how long it would take to complete every item on the to-do list, one item at a time, the total would be something close to 647 hours!

There’s no way to cram 647 hours worth of activity into a 24 hour day. But boy, do we try. So we multi-task.

No matter what we’re doing, we’re also doing something else.

While we’re driving the kids to school, we’re also putting together a grocery list and phoning in the prescription refills we’ll have to pick up at the end of the day. And coordinating who’s getting picked up after soccer practice and who needs a ride to clarinet class.

While we’re in the office, we’re doing our jobs – and also some freelance HR, smoothing over a conflict between two cranky colleagues who have to work together; fielding a call from the school nurse who’s certain your child needs stronger glasses right now, and maybe doing a little online Christmas shopping, because the holidays will be here before you know it.

After work, it’s time to connect with your kids, hear about your partner’s horrendous day at work, and listen to your folks tell you how everything you’re doing could be done so much better if only you did things their way. At the same time, the emails won’t stop coming; the office wants you to answer just one more simple question, and the dog has eaten something he really shouldn’t have, and now you need a carpet cleaner and possibly a haz-mat team.

Does any of this sound familiar? Women are living incredibly full lives: full of responsibility, full of stress, and yes, believe it or not, full of laughter.

Women’s Humor, Women’s Health

Researcher Robert Provine has found that women laugh more often than men do. There are a bunch of reasons for that, but let’s sum up:

Women who laugh are happier people. Women who laugh are healthier people. Chalk another one up to the power of multi-tasking. When women laugh, they’re accomplishing many things at once.

When women laugh, they’re lifting their spirits, boosting their mood and increasing their emotional resiliency. Because women are awesome, our laughter can even encourage other people to laugh, which helps elevate their moods as well!

When women laugh, they’re lowering their blood pressure. Laughter helps thin the lining of our blood vessels, which is great news for anyone worried about heart disease and cardiac health. When women laugh, they’re more likely to experience better blood sugar control.

When women laugh, their stress levels come down. This is hugely important, as stress contributes negatively  to so many health problems we’d all rather live without. Laughter is an all-natural stress buster, requiring no drugs and completely free!

When women laugh, we might think we’re just having a bit of fun. But we’re actually improving our health, preparing ourselves to have a better tomorrow, and having a positive impact on the lives of the people around us. That’s the healing power of humor: amazing and amusing at the same time!

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Using Humor To Be A Better Nurse: Welcome to the Hall of Fame

“The minute this LOL walked into our ER, I knew she was going to be trouble. She arrived with 6 relatives, each of whom was being continually, loudly reminded of their responsibilities. One had to hold the purse, another was to call everyone – she listed them by name – and let them know the LOL was in the ICU and about to die any moment, another one had to run out to the car to make sure the lights were out, the fourth was supposed to make the doctor see her at the triage desk because she didn’t have the strength to go any further, the fifth had to take the purse because the first one wasn’t holding it right, and the sixth was responsible for everything else.”

“I don’t think Queen Elizabeth has this many attendants. I knew right then we had a candidate for our Hall of Fame.”

Reframing: Seeing the World Through the Lens of Humor

Some patients are more difficult than others. That’s no secret – just ask any nurse! Humor provides a way to keep calm, cool and collected while managing difficult patients – and keeps the experience of caring for those difficult patients negatively impact the care you give your other patients.

“As you can imagine, getting LOL to agree to being separated from her entourage was challenging, and she became less and less compliant as things went on. It would have been easy to get upset, but instead I just focused on the fact that she was going in the Hall of Fame. In our hospital, we all keep a little mental list of our most memorable patients, the ones who were truly unique because they were difficult, demanding, so over the top – maybe you know the type? When someone’s talking about the guy who insists the doctor stole his teeth – which are always, always, always in his right shirt pocket; they haven’t been in his mouth as far as we can tell since 1973!- we say, “Oh, him! He’s in my Hall of Fame!”

This Hall of Fame practice is what is known as a reframing technique. Taking a situation that’s stressful, and choosing to view it from a more humorous perspective, is a valuable way to help you feel more in control. You’re creating emotional distance between yourself and the difficult patient. You’ll experience less of the physical symptoms of elevated stress.

The best thing about the Hall of Fame technique is it takes place entirely inside your head. Your patients don’t need to know they belong in the Hall of Fame – it’s probably not a really good idea to tell them they’re a candidate! – for you to benefit from the stress-break and emotional distance humor provides. Comparing Hall of Fame stories with colleagues builds bonds, something we definitely need in the profession right now, while modeling appropriate stress-management techniques for more junior nurses.

“They never did admit my LOL to the ICU – no matter how bad your hangnail really is, they’re not going to give you a bed for that! She left, with her half-dozen attendants checking her vitals every step and a half. It took her a little while, but she walked right out of the ER and into the Hall of Fame!”

Posted in: Catching Up With Karyn, Journal of Nursing Jocularity

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