Although we had some technical issues connecting, I was able to give my talk today about humor and health on The Wellness Coaches show on blogtalkradio.
Any thoughts I had about having lost my New York accent years ago were dashed after I listened to the broadcast later on. It’s like I never left! How can that be possible? You can take the girl out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the girl!
Because I got started on the show a little late, I was unable to finish my last anecdote about humor and its relation to stress so I’d like to finish it here.
When I worked at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis) they often offered free workshops during the lunch hour that included special guest speakers. One guest speaker was Dr. Steve Allen, Jr. who specialized in Family Practice medicine and to me, he was a very special guest.
As it turned out Dr. Allen is the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen who was the first host of the Tonight Show. Many comedians have copied his shtick! Leno copied Allen’s Man On The Street routine. Carson’s Carnack the Magnificent routine, was also copied. But you know what they say: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery! Comedians revere Steve Allen.
For those who are unfamiliar with Steve Allen’s work, Allen was not only a comedian, he was also a composer, lyricist, conductor, singer, and pianist. He wrote over 50 books. He also wrote over 8,500 songs, at least two of which you will be familiar: “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” and “Impossible” recorded by Perry Como. There was just no end to his talent, he was brilliant. My family would tune into his show weekly and join him and his audience in hysterical laughter.
So, here was his son before me talking about humor and stress. I wondered how a son of such a famous father (and mother too, Jayne Meadows)
could manage under such a big shadow! It turns out he manages very well! He asked his audience, which included a fairly large group of well-dressed, well-mannered, educated, and reserved employees to take the three scarves that he passed out to each of us, and juggle them up in the air.
We all stood up and tried to juggle these wisps of fabric. They were so thin and fragile, there was no way we could keep them up in the air. Soon, most of us were bending over picking them up or retrieving them from the seat in front of us. Lots of laughter ensued. Dr. Allen managed to turn this group into a bunch of rowdy pre-schoolers! He says that juggling brings the creative use of silliness and that he gets the same result when giving his talk to Nobel Prize winners or janitors!! Laughter = release of tension.
Now, just because we were being silly, doesn’t mean that something positive wasn’t happening or that he wasn’t being serious in his talk! This was a fun way for employees to spend their lunch time and I was happy to be a participant, especially because I have always been a big fan of Steve Allen, the comedian.
Dr. Allen won several professional awards for his work in stress management. By the way, I still have the scarves.
Since I consider myself more of a student of humor and laughter rather than an expert, I searched for information online about humor from a more technical point of view that was from the experts. One site was from Harvard that discusses how the brain processes humor: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/hmni/On_The_Brain/Volume16/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf
Another site was from howstuffworks.com http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/laughter1.htm
Both these sites are educational and funny! I encourage you to take a look!
So how does humor fit in when developing healthy living habits is such a struggle sometimes?
One example of how it fits in is that if you are at work and you’re under a lot of stress and can’t exercise to relieve or reduce your stress, you can use humor in the form of reading a funny book on your break (I recommend a Far Side book) or watch something silly on YouTube.
Less planning is involved with using humor for good health. You don’t need to change clothes or hire a personal trainer or go to a class. You don’t need to follow a certain recipe or prepare a meal as you do when you are following the Mediterranean diet. You can just turn on the TV or computer and look for a comedy!
So, the bottom line is: humor is more accessible in the arsenal of healthy habits.
Laughing relaxes us. It relaxes our muscles. It puts us in a positive frame of mind. It stimulates our brain and makes us happy. It lowers our blood pressure. It increases creativity. It reinforces group cohesiveness, improves problem-solving ability, and increases endorphins and dopamine.
Last but not least, laughter is contagious like a cold and can spread!
I would love to hear your comments about what you thought of the show and/or your thoughts about humor and laughing. Any funny stories would be welcome too!