“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.” -Patch Adams. This implies happiness can be a conscious decision. Why would we want to go here? Besides the obvious reason that joy is in itself a destination, let’s take a look inside the laughter and see what’s happening inside the body when we laugh:
– oxygen and circulation flow increase
– blood pressure lowers
– muscles are activated
-stress is diminished
-physical tension is eased
– pain tolerance is improved
– immune system is boosted
– the organs vibrate
– hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands are activated
-endorphins are excreted
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And as I look to play Devil’s Advocate, the only downside I can see to convulsive guffaws is possibly some minor incontinence, a price many would be willing to pay for a good laugh. I’m in – let the drops fall where they may!! While I’m navigating the yellow river, let me take it one step further by sharing a vignette from the life of Norman Cousins, king of healing laughter. He checked himself out of the glum grey hospital and into a hotel room where he hired a private nurse. One day she commented that his urine sample seemed a bit cloudy. He told her he would run it through again, picked up the glass and drank it down. He had surreptitiously substituted apple juice for his urine sample that morning.
This anecdote not only illustrates humor, but also suggests that the patient can be the one to initiate. Empowerment, big time.
A recent study in Scotland noted that people with chronic conditions can be extremely self-blaming and self-critical. Of course, humor is found to help here. When the body goes into laughter mode, relaxation occurs. We know the smile response does good things for the body, perhaps humor can help coax away the mask that sometimes appears with Parkinson’s Disease. We practitioners of Wisdom Healing Qigong know all about the inner smile and visualizing the organs as smiling. Think of working on an outer smile as part of a health routine. You can start by imagining the smile on your face if necessary. My guess is that the more time spent in working the facial muscles into a smile, the less frequently the mask will appear. Worth a try.
I know it’s difficult to see humor in some situations. I also know laughter can be a real survival tool. My elder son, Aaron, and I employed this measure often when dealing with Justin’s (my younger son’s) autism. When the movie “Rainman” was first released, Aaron and I were at the front of the line at the local cinema. That beautiful movie touched so many chords, and occasionally the funny bone – if you were living with autism. So Aaron and I found ourselves trying to swallow back down the chortles ans chuckles that could have been guffaws if we weren’t concerned with ejection from the theatre for being insensitive clods.
Justin provided us with a sweet laugh one Christmas when he was about seven years old. Every year I would search for The Golden Bullet of toys, the panacea that would absorb him, soothe him, stimulate him, cure him. And each year Justin displayed the only reasonable autistic response. He ignored the toy and became fascinated with crinkling the wrapping paper and deconstructing the box. Stocking stuffers were even more challenging to find. So, in desperation, Christmas Eve night I went outside and collected a bunch of twigs to fill Justin’s stocking. This was a double-entendre for Aaron and myself on the “coal and twigs” folklore. At the time, Justin was into stimming behavior, which we were working on gradually extinguishing. He would find a twig, bend it at a certain calculated angle, and then perform a kind of flipping motion to and fro, staring at this hypnotic routine with his peripheral vision. I thought I would give Aaron and myself a laugh with Justin’s stocking. So the joke was on me when on Christmas morning Justin rubbed his sleepy eyes, spotted his stocking, opened eyes wide, turned to his brother and said: “Look, Aaron! Santa left me flippers!” Santa also gained esteem with Justin that Christmas. He felt understood by The Man!
In my research for this topic I discovered that there is an Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. The keynote speaker at a recent conference was a sock puppet. The registration packets included bright red clown noses. Also, earlier this week the news featured a surprise humorous makeover scenario for cancer patients. They thought they were receiving the standard “pretty” makeover package. Instead they were transformed into various humorous characters and shown their silly images in the mirror. At the reveal, for one brief moment, they were completely transported by the funny reflection they saw. And let’s not forget Pink Tutu Guy. This husband is supporting his wife’s cancer recovery by making her laugh. He travels about, filming his portly, hirsute, bare-chested beautiful self in various playful poses. These videos are taking on a life of their own on social media.
Norman Cousins, Patch Adams and various health and healing institutes are suggesting humor as part of a therapy program. Of course, compassionate humor. Not racist, not sexist, and certainly not self-deprecating. Hey, did you hear the one about the blogger who was looking for a funny closing punchline? Neither did I !! So I need your assistance here. Please join me and my freind and colleague, Judith Kahleani Lynne, this Sunday, December 15th, at 2pm Pacific Time, to further explore this topic, and anything else you’d like to discuss. It would be great if you have something humorous to share, either live or email me in advance at: email@example.com. Link below.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all a happy holiday season and a bright and joyous New Year. Please accept my gratitude for your presence and support. I am honored and blessed to be a part of your path to wellness. I embrace you in a chi hug. May you feel the love.
Your Chi-eer Leader,
*****Starting tomorrow, 12/14, for one week only, the kindle version of my book, “Reboot and Rejoice”, will be selling on Amazon for 99 cents. So if you know of anyone who may be interested, please pass it on. Let’s spread the healing message. Haola! *****
And why shiver your timbers this winter when you could be joining Judith and myself for a healing retreat in Hawaii from 1/19-1/26 ? We still have a few spaces and would love to meet you there. Info below.