Many of you may be too young to recall the story of Norman Cousins. The 60-second version: When diagnosed with a degenerative disease (ankylosing spondylitis) he checked himself into a hotel across the street from his hospital, and with the support of his doctor and his friend, Allen Funt (Host of Candid Camera-are you too young to remember that, too???), he basically laughed himself into remission. He wrote a book about his experience, Anatomy of an Illness, and a new era-psychoneuroimmunology began.
Scientists began to study the healing power of humor and validate that there really is truth to the saying, “Laughter’s the best medicine.” Benefits to your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system, your musculoskeletal system, your immune system, your endocrine system, your nervous system, your digestive system-the evidence grows leaps and bounds daily! But here’s my suggestion: Don’t wait for further proof. Do a little self-experimentation. Incorporate humor into your daily routine. Make humor a habit and enjoy a healthier you!
Create a humor habit
Norman Cousins created a humor habit by watching reels and reels of Candid Camera (that was before VCRs and TiVo). Below are a few techniques to help create your humor habit:
Jokes and Anecdotes
I think everyone ought to learn at least one joke. Something short, easy to remember, and non-offensive. But better than jokes are stories. What’s most personal is most universal. Those who know and love me will understand why I so enjoyed the story sent to me by my angel, Jim Brown. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did!
Several days ago as I left a meeting at a hotel, I desperately gave myself a personal TSA pat down. I was looking for my car keys. They weren’t in my pockets. A quick search in the meeting room revealed nothing. Suddenly I realized I must have left them in the car. Frantically, I headed for the parking lot.
My wife had scolded me many times for leaving the keys in the ignition. My theory is that the ignition is the best place not to lose them. Her theory is that the car will be stolen. As I burst through the door, I came to a terrifying conclusion. Her theory was right! The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, and confessed that I’d left my keys in the car and that it’d been stolen.
Then I made the most difficult call of all. “Sweetheart,” I stammered. (I always call her sweetheart, especially in times like these.) “I left my keys in the car and it’s been stolen.” There was a period of silence. I thought the call had been dropped, but then I heard her voice. “Are you kiddin’ me?!” she barked, “I dropped you off at the hotel!!!”
Now it was my time to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, “Well, please come and get me.”
She retorted, “I will… as soon as I convince this cop I didn’t steal your car!”
Manipulate your environment
Increase your likelihood of experiencing humor by keeping things that amuse you within arm’s reach. Books, audio clips, games or pictures-what brings you a smile, or better yet a chuckle?
Create Your Humor Habit:
Jigsaw Puzzles-for your computer!
Putting together a puzzle can be relaxing, fun, and good for your brain! But perhaps you’re a bit short on time or table space. Checkout Mindjolt.com for puzzles and lots of fun games. Dr. O. Carl Simonton of the Simonton Cancer Institute determined that play is crucial to our well-being, and that we’d all be healthier if we slated 15-30 minutes of play into our day. Schedule some time for puzzles in your repertoire of recreation!
Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.
She can also be reached via:
Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101
Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!