Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Funny Fridays! Let's Make It Official

'Tis the season to lighten up and give gifts, so let's be sure to include gifts of laughter and humor. Annually, let's Make the First Friday in April (National Humor Month) and the last Friday in November, officially Funny Fridays!
I have submitted those days to Chase's Calendar of Events
Laughter lifts spirits, reduces stress, connects us to others, makes happy memories, and has healing effects. We need laughter now more than ever, so let's devote at least a couple of day to creating, buying, giving, exchanging, or otherwise sharing gifts of laughter to tickle the funny bones of friends and family. 

The master of movie comedy, Charlie Chaplin, said, "A day without laughter is like a day without sunshine." I say, let's bring rays of sunshine to this too-often commercialized, tension-filled season by making the last Friday in November 'Funny Friday' (and to National Humor Month, and while you're at it, any other Friday during the year).

Laughter is a kind of medicine for the good it can do. And, the sound of mirthful laughter is contagious. What we have here is something the world needs now more than ever--something positive that we can catch from each other!

Many people who used to think that laughter was silly or that jokes were immature, have made the surprising discovery that laughter has its own natural, healthful benefits. Every system of the body functions better when you laugh. Laughter has survival value.

I have built an online catalog of things that laugh or that induce mirthful laughter. People love to hear the sound of laughing. In the Old Testament, Sarah laughed with joy and named her baby Isaac, the Hebrew word for laughter. The earliest recordings are of the human voice laughing.

Our 'child' lies dormant within each of us and our normal, intended state is to be healthy, magical, and childlike. I recall being a kid whose family spent summers in Atlantic City. One time, I redeemed my winning Skee-Ball tickets at the Penny Arcade for a battery operated mechanical laugh box that came in an orange drawstring bag. All summer, we kids on the beach in my neighborhood never tired of playing with it and falling down again and again in peals of laughter.
Out of that experience, I began to collect other mechanical laughing devices along with audio and video recordings of laughter. There's actually a DVD of 15 minutes of nothing but laughter, called The Gift of Laughter.

Now, we have electronic toys like the ingenious Laffy Laffalot, gadgets like realistic laughing key chains, family laughing games, and even children's books that laugh. The World Laughter Tour online catalog also lists various 'amusements' like a whirring, light-flashing wizard's wand, Happy Pills, laughing key rings, and books of jokes & funny stories for all ages from 3 months to 103. George Bernard Shaw observed that, "People don’t stop playing because they grow old, they grow old because they stop playing."
Family Laughing Game
Laughing Happy Pills
Terrific Joke Book
It has been said that the halls of heaven ring with the laughter of the saints. As you make your gift lists for this season and all through the year, be sure to include laughter and humor. They are appropriate and welcomed gifts for almost any occasion.
Three Suggestions:
1. As you make your gift list, think about what you know about each person's sense of humor and match it up with something suitable. Don't send off-color jokes to someone who is more reserved.
2. You don't have to spend a lot of money. A humorous greeting card will do just fine, and you can make your own.
3. Search online for jokes, riddles, or witticisms on topics that you know each person would appreciate (sports, a hobby, kids, business, etc.) and print out a compilation to add to a card or gift.
Your gift of laughter will be memorable for all the right reasons. Gifts of laughter are permission to lighten up, let go and have fun, and they make lasting connections. As Victor Borge said, laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
Award-winning psychologist, Steve Wilson, also known as The Joyologist and The Cheerman of the Bored, has spent 30 years specializing in applied and therapeutic humor with a humanitarian mission. As Director of National Humor Month, he intertwines science and ancient wisdom with substance and humor to lead the world to health, happiness and peace through laughter. More than six thousand people have completed his unique training in how to create therapeutic laughter, and tens of thousands more around the world have been uplifted by his talks, classes, books, and articles. He established the World Laughter Tour, Inc., in 1998, to be a rich resource and inspiration for improving productivity, health, and well being in business, healthcare and education.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post-disaster humor, laughter, resilience, and action

Humor and laughter can offer post-disaster healing, but timing and receptivity are critical considerations.

“Now, more than ever.” We have said these words about therapeutic humor and laughter many times during the past dozen years. Perhaps, some would say, too many times.

Some of our laughter & humor colleagues have been hard hit by Sandy; many were spared. Weather experts tell us to expect and prepare for more frequent and damaging weather events.

"People throughout history have used humor, stories, music, dancing to cope with human tragedy," said Melina McLain, a San Francisco-based disaster response coordinator for the United Church of Christ. "Tapping into our own creativity makes us feel less powerless. The psychologist Carl Jung said, art is the cure for suffering."

Photojournalist Richard Misrach's video documentary gives an interesting perspective into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s pretty amazing to see both the reoccurring responses from those affected within the community as well as humorous responses after such a life changing event.

Yet sometimes, trauma is so overwhelming that our hearts go numb. When that happens, what should we do with our laughter, with our empathy, with our compassion?

One thing for sure, it will be good for us to stick together. And, to act.

WizeOne sez: The snowflake is God’s most fragile creation, but look what they can do when they stick together.


We might seek a sense of balance in the stark-but-astute observation of George Bernhard Shaw, “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."

Some might ask, “How can you laugh at a time like this?” Some spiritual teachers might reply with a question, “How can you not laugh at a time like this?”

Or, we remember Ecclesiastes, “There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. A time for all things.”

Grief, a very unpleasant emotion, is the process necessary for healing from loss. Psychologist Annette Goodheart taught us why grieving can take a very long time: we cannot do it all at once; we do it in pieces; in many, many pieces. For a time, laughter may not be accessible. Eventually, laughter—the great emotional balancer—is possible again. "Just because you're miserable," she said, "doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life."

We take hope from our colleagues who study the humor of disasters. (Google "humor and disaster" for a plethora of reports.)

The father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, and others report that following traumatic events, the large majority of people have resilience and bounce back; a small percentage actually are stronger at some time after the trauma; a small percentage have great difficulty coming back to normal functioning.

Logic can help, but it is not enough.
Platitudes can help, but they are not enough.
Science can help, but it is not enough.
Prayer can be comforting, but it is not enough.
What, then, is "enough"?


Perhaps we need to take action, remembering that no sincere act of compassion or charity is ever to small. Maimonides taught that the highest degree of charity is what helps a person be strong and capable enough that they no longer require charity. The next highest degree is giving anonymously so that the donor and the recipient are not known to anyone. But, you don’t have to stop there because there are at least six more degrees of charity. And, it is worth repeating: no sincere act of compassion or charity is ever too small.

Keeping these in mind might help us have the energy and resilience to think about what we can do, and to do it.

There are non-religious spiritual aspects to our work.


“Some human beings are too hungry to be laughing,” is the subtitle of my call to action, “FULL BELLY LAUGHTER”. We could add that some are too cold, scared, sad, angry, stunned, or grieving. Understandably, these are natural human emotions that block access to laughter or make humor seem inappropriate, untimely, and in bad taste.

Read or re-read the attached paper, breathe deeply and stay open to your mind’s suggestions for the actions that are right for you. Then, do them!

Again: the snowflake is God’s most fragile creation, but look what they can do when they stick together.

Love, light and laughter,