• June 2011

15 Humorists Explore the Benefits of Laughing Out Loud In "Humor Me!"

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher
Be Inkandescent Magazine

From essays on “Mirthmaking,” to “Preparation H for the Soul,” 15 funny authors, speakers, and performers combine their thoughts and ideas in “Humor Me,” a book on the power of laughter, compiled by Denver, CO-based motivational speaker Brad Montgomery.

“‘Humor Me!’ is not a joke book — although it will make you laugh, and it’s not a book about comedy technique — but it can help you be funnier,” explains Montgomery. “It is a book about the power of laughter and humor, about the importance and value of having fun. And it’s a book chock-full of tips on how to inject more humor into your life — starting today.”

Tap Into the Power

Montgomery says he published the compilation as an antidote to the modern American’s crazy-busy lifestyle.

“The everyday stresses of life can leave us feeling hassled, hurried, and tightly wound,” he writes. “Add to that a fragile economy during a time of threatened security, and we could be left feeling frightened, vulnerable, and off the chart on the stress meter. We need tools for coping.”

This is the perfect time to find the funny in your life, he suggests.

“Not only do humor and laughter make life more enjoyable, they help us deal more effectively with real-life difficulties we may face,” Montgomery insists, noting that the advice offered in the book helps readers manage the stress of change, loss, conflict, disability, and even death.”

Indeed, his book offers ways to use humor to deal effectively with others and to strengthen relationships.

“Humor and laughter will not just change your day; they can change your life,” Montgomery insists.

Here are four tips to get you started.

1. Be a Kid at Heart

In his chapter on “Mirthmaking,” former corporate lobbyist and nightclub performer Mark Mayfield offers advice on how to keep it light.

He explains: “One of my best friends has a 4-year-old son who recently asked him, ‘Was Humpty Dumpty’s mom a big fat chicken?’ Only a kid would think of that. So be a kid at heart. If at no other time of the year, you have the opportunity on Halloween. It’s a chance to dress up and act like a kid.”

“Last year I was a ballerina. I even had the tights and a tutu. Apparently, many folks haven’t seen a 185-pound ballerina with a potbelly because small children were frightened, and I don’t mean in a spooky way, but in a “he’s very strange” way. By next Halloween, however, the restraining orders will have expired and I’ll have another chance to celebrate this great holiday.”

His bottom line: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.”

2. Use Humor to Gain a New Perspective

In the chapter, “Dying for a good laugh?” we gain insight from Ronald Culberson, an experienced hospice social worker, a senior manager, and a 20-year researcher of the benefits of humor.

In the last several years, he has conducted workshops for 500 corporations, associations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and offers tips on how to keep your sense of humor through grief and loss.

He writes, “The problem with adversity, especially death, is that we tend to only see one perspective — a negative one. The nature of humor, however, is that it creates a new perspective. In fact, a joke takes us down one contextual path and then changes directions. It’s this new perspective that makes us laugh.”

Culberson offers this example: “A three-legged dog walked into an Old West saloon and said, ‘I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.’ Some of you will get that later! You see, the word paw takes on two meanings (pa for father and paw for foot) and it is those two meanings that make the joke funny … for some of us.”

While Culberson knows that we can’t control everything that happens to us in this world, he believes, “we can determine how we respond. If we allow ourselves to embrace humor as a way to respond to the joyful and tragic times in life, our lives will be rich and balanced. As author Robert Louis Stevenson said, “That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much.’”

3. Listen for Laughter

In her chapter on “Phone Fun for Fabulous Financial Success,” certified speaking professional June Cline tells us, “Just by shifting your attention to noticing laughter, you’ll be amazed at how laughter-filled your conversations already are.”

She asks us to take a closer look at our behavior on the phone. “Who initiates the laughter over the phone? Become aware of the number of times you (or your prospect or client) instigate laughter and on what topics. Make note of those topics to help you be on the lookout for more humor in those areas. Actually count the number of laughs by making a tic mark every time laughter is generated.

Cline suggests we set up a ‘T’ bar labeled ‘Me/Them’ so that we become aware of who is the comedic instigator.

“Why is this important?” she asks? “Because he who instigates laughter wins. He wins recognition, respect, and reward. According to a friend of mine, a former nurse now turned humorist, ‘laughter increases the receive-ability of endorphins,’ which is nature’s wonder drug. If you instigate the laugh, you make others feel good. You actually change their brain chemistry; you change their state of mind. They begin to associate you with the laughter and that feel-good feeling. They like you more and they don’t even know why.”

Why does this matter? Cline points to a study by the American Trade Association that indicates that 74 percent of the respondents said, all things being equal in products and services, they would change the companies they did business with in order to have more fun.

“With the weight of today’s complex world on our shoulders, ‘laughter equals hope’ (to quote myself),” she concludes. “If you aren’t instigating humor, you are “the weakest link.”

4. Make Laughter Your Best Medicine

In his chapter, “Laughter — The Best Medicine,” Dr. Brad Nieder starts off by questioning his own advice to patients that laughing will make them healthy. After extensive research on the topic, he concludes that yes, laughing is good for you.

Here’s what he determined are the benefits of humor:

  • Laughter is free (a great benefit in today’s age of seeking cost-effective treatments).
  • It’s free of dyes and perfumes (not to mention free of artificial flavors and colors, and fat-free, sugar-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free).
  • It enhances our resistance to illness by boosting the immune system.
  • It reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in the blood.
  • It enhances pain management by raising pain thresholds.
  • It provides a good, quick aerobic workout for the heart and lungs.
  • It provides a workout for the abdomen, diaphragm, and facial muscles.
  • It doesn’t require filling out time-consuming insurance claims.
  • It enhances romance. (After all, numerous surveys indicate that a sense of humor is the most desirable trait in a mate. Who needs asparagus?)

Click here for more information, and to buy Humor Me!

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