Sunday, October 23, 2011

Laughter therapy's healthy respect for humor & comedy

A recent audio report focuses on the curiously curative potential of humor and comedy in the face of cancer. Laughter therapists should find it useful.

For important reasons World Laughter Tour (WLT), draws distinctions between therapeutic humor and therapeutic laughter. WLT methods and theoretical foundations are almost exclusively about laughter, mirthful laughter. But, how could laughter therapists, i.e., Certified Laughter Leaders (CLLs), be fully effective without at least a basic knowledge of both humor and laughter?

It would be wrong-headed and misleading for an enthusiastic appreciation of the power of laughter to imply a disdain of humor.

In a 1996 documentary about laughter clubs getting started in India, a laughter club member in Mumbai declares, “Laughter alone is the solution!” But, respectfully, I have always disagreed. To me, his zealous enthusiasm for laughter is too narrow of a viewpoint.

Laughter and humor are allies that overlap

Therapeutic humor entails different challenges from therapeutic laughter; it has its own theories and methods.  Still, there is the place where humor and laughter overlap, and that place is essential to laughter therapists. That’s one of the reasons I advocate for them to try at least one year’s memberships in AATH (Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor) and ISHS (International Society for Humor Studies).

The theme of this blog is that laughter and humor are therapeutic allies. Separate in some ways but inseparable in other ways. Over the years, the WLT course of study has included more and more information about this alliance.

To add breadth and depth the curative potential of laughter (and humor), we integrate a six-step program of attitudinal healing as a vital part of our process. The International School of Laughter (France) includes extensive coursework in Playful Sophrology. Fully effective laughter therapy blends many complimentary practices.

Laughter therapy blends many complimentary practices

This combination plus the dynamic/organic process of developing the method, has fostered a distinctive and highly credible brand of laughter therapy, drawing from numerous schools. I am excited that even more will be added soon and in the coming years as we become aware of the true depth and breadth of both our mission and our method.

The fact Public Radio aired a report on comedy & cancer is subtle evidence that the pioneers in this field, in their own special way, are making significant inroads into illuminating and improving the human condition.


Friday, October 7, 2011

a SHIFT to a higher consciousness

Listen up and pass it on.
Finding happiness requires playing life like an accordion. The sweetest music requires compression and expansion of the bellows, in the right amounts at the right times.

Sometimes condensing ideas to their simplest forms is helpful. For example, my blog of 5/17/11, tells the story of how all the wisdom in the world could be condensed into a single word. The word is maybe.

And while that may be true, most of us will need a more complete map for our journey to territories like health, happiness, joy, and contentment. To get there, I suspect, most of us would need a few more details, guideposts, landmarks, and road signs. We'd appreciate an expanded map.

Generous helpings of humor and laughter result from Good-Hearting Living
Expanding from the wisdom and truth of maybe, I added a half dozen guideposts to help point the way. They are the practices of attitudinal healing that comprise the program of Good-Hearted Living(tm): paying compliments, being flexible, gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, and chocolate. You can click on the link in this paragraph for a one-page summary of how it works (condensed). Or, buy the book (expanded).

When I was a practicing psychotherapist the school of psychology I followed was W.W.: Whatever Works, an eclectic and pragmatic approach that was very successful. I learned that "crazy" comes in two basic forms: bad and good.

Crazy bad is shorthand for conditions of emotional distress and mental illness that makes some people dangerous and prevents people from being fully functional, highly effective, and truly happy. Crazy good often results in negative judgements that some others put on us when we are merely being creative and individualistic, our unique selves, pursuing higher consciousness, doing no harm, but not doing what they think we should be doing.

Attached to the pursuit of the therapeutic alliance between laughter and humor are some values about the world being a better place and people treating each other in a kinder, fairer, more humane way. If peaceful co-existence, a greener world, a more loving and laughter filled world are crazy ideas, then I would say that are crazy good ideas.

Now, as the world seems to be tilting more toward crazy bad, we need a SHIFT to more crazy good.

That shift will require an expanded map. More details. More landmarks. More road signs.

Here is one written by Rabbi Howard L Apothaker. It was presented during Yom Kippur services as "An Acrostic 'Days of Awe' Prayer" - actually a series of prayers from A-to-Z, "from Awe to Zeal, for returning to our most humane conduct." With gratitude to Rabbi Apothaker, I offer it here, slightly paraphrased, as an expanded set of alphabetic guideposts to help us balance ourselves and thereby contribute to a more balanced world.

Please join me on the path of a SHIFT to a higher consciousness...

From animosity to affability,
From bigotry to blessing.
From cruelty to caring.
From deception to devotion.
From enmity to engagement,
From faultfinding to forgiveness,
From greed to generosity,
From hostility to heartfulness,
From injustice to integrity,
From jingoism to judiciousness,
From Klanishness to kindness,
From lewdness to love,
From maliciousness to mercy,
From nastiness to niceness,
From obstinancy to openmindedness,
From prejudice to peacefulness,
From querulousness to quietude,
From ridicule to respect,
From selfishness to sacrifice.,
From trash-talk to tact,
From violence to values,
From warfare to welcoming,
From xenophobia to examination of self,
From yelling insults to yielding ground,
From zero-sum to a zeal for cooperation.

True mirthful laughter and humor will be the greatest therapeutic allies when they are linked to a higher consciousness. Let us seek to accomplish that alliance and fulfill its potential, in Rabbi Apothaker's words, "For all peoples, for every person, at this time, through all time, in our time; and for all human convictions and creeds."